Friday, March 6, 2015

Movie with Abe: Kidnapping Mr. Heineken

Kidnapping Mr. Heineken
Directed by Daniel Alfredson
Released March 6, 2015

Verbs in titles are an interesting thing, because they frame the main event in a certain light as crucial to the plot. “Crossing Delancey,” “Kissing Jessica Stein,” and “Killing Kennedy” are three such titles that come to mind right off the bat, the first two of which are broader in scope and not confined to just one action, while the third is more definitive in the nature of its meaning, chronicling the run-up to one undeniably central circumstance. Such is also the case in “Kidnapping Mr. Heineken,” the dramatization of the real-life abduction of beer magnate Freddy Heineken and his driver in exchange for an enormous ransom that has all the makings of a great crime story but just doesn’t manage to excite in its execution.

For the considerable task of taking one of the world’s foremost businessmen prisoner, this film assembles a talented European cast to portray its kidnappers. Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, and Ryan Kwanten, who have made their marks in “Across the Universe,” “Avatar,” and “True Blood,” among other projects, are joined by the lesser-known Mark van Eeuwen to form the team of criminals who decide that their best chance to get rich isn’t through genuine enterprise but instead by conceiving of a grand plan to make it look like a well-organized mafia plotted a major kidnapping.

Casting is no small thing for the part of Heineken, with Anthony Hopkins, an acting legend in his own right, deemed fit for the part. Yet there’s something about Heineken, emblematic of most of Hopkins’ recent parts, that initially seems intriguing but doesn’t turn out to be all that worthwhile. Heineken is afforded a few moments of spirited resistance that let Hopkins demonstrate his typical haunting ferocity, but otherwise little is learned about the man worth so much. The same is true of his driver, Ab Doderer, portrayed by David Dencik, who is seen having difficulty adjusting to his surroundings in solitary confinement but not given much depth.

The focus is put, instead, on the kidnappers. Sturgess, Worthington, Kwanten, and Eeuwen do their best to assume their roles, creating flawed characters driven by their motivations to succeed in one specific area but hopelessly held back by their vices. Their story begins as an interesting one and gradually builds to a resolution that isn’t terribly satisfying and goes on for far too long. There are elements of a decent thriller here, but taken all together they aren’t able to add up to much.


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