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'Kidnapping Mr. Heineken': Criminally predictable

Tom Long
The Detroit News

There are certain basics that any kidnapping movie has to have, and "Kidnapping Mr. Heineken" has all of them. Unfortunately, that's about all the movie has.

First off, you need somebody rich to kidnap; this true story from the early '80s has Freddy Heineken (Anthony Hopkins, in perhaps his least memorable role), fabulously wealthy thanks to his beer fortune and living very accessibly in Amsterdam.

Next you need a gang to pull it off. The gang here is led by Cor Van Hout (Jim Sturgess) and his brother-in-law Willem Holleeder (Sam Worthington). They're looking for the proverbial big score to set them up in life, like most kidnappers.

The movie, of course, goes through a planning stage: Scoping out Heineken's habits, robbing a bank to get some cash to work with (which also offers an excuse for a chase scene), building a couple of quiet rooms for Heineken and his chauffeur in a workshed owned by one of the accomplices (Ryan Kwanten).

Then comes the kidnapping itself. Followed by the inevitable bickering and breakdowns of the kidnappers when a ransom is slow in coming. Then the ransom comes, the kidnappers go on the run, and everybody lives happily ever after. Just kidding. It's a kidnapping. Those never work out.

The thing is, it's hard to care as this caper unravels. William Brookfield's adaptation of Peter R. de Vries' book offers very little insight into the kidnappers themselves beyond the fact that they dream big. And even though your expecting some Hannibal Lecter-like wit from Hopkins as Heineken tries to mess with his captor's minds, none comes. Freddy just isn't that sharp or fascinating a guy; he's more likely to bore the bad guys to death than incite them into making a wrong move.

Directed by Daniel Alfredson, who did the second and third parts of the Swedish "Dragon Tattoo" films, Heineken may be weighed down by the predictable reality of actual events. Or it just may be lacking in electricity and depth. Either way, it's lacking.

'Kidnapping Mr. Heineken'


Rated R for language throughout

Running time: 95 minutes

"Kidnapping Mr. Heineken" (R ) This tepid true kidnapping tale starring Anthony Hopkins, Jim Sturgess and Sam Worthington may be weighed down by the predictability of actual events. Or it may just be weighed down. (95 minutes) GRADE: C-