Kidnapping Freddy Heineken

2015-07-24 07:05

What it's about:

The true story of how a group of working stiffs pulled off the kidnapping of Beer tycoon, Alfred "Freddy" Heineken, resulting in the biggest ransom ever paid for a single individual. But, as the film's tagline says, "it was the perfect crime until they got away with it..."

What we thought:

Considering just how interesting Kidnapping Freddy Heineken's basic story is, as well as the sheer talent both behind and in front of the camera, it really shocking just how terrible a film it turned out to be.

The basic plot is, as I said, really rather good but you wouldn't think so based on just how clumsily its told and how terribly its paced. There are much more jaw-droppingly awful things about the film (more on one or two of those in a bit) but by far the most disappointing thing about it is just how boring it rendered this story. Here we have a crazier-than-fiction true crime story, mixed with tons of infighting, moral complications and a (potential) mounting sense of tension as our "anti-heroes" steadily come to the realisation that they're really not equipped to pull off such a complicated crime – and yet it was all I could do to stay awake.

Director Daniel Alfredson directed the original Swedish versions of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy and though they were certainly from from perfect, they were at least decently constructed thrillers. Here though, any of the thrills and chills that Alfredson brought to the big screen adventures of Lisbeth Salander are conspicuous by their absence. Instead, we have annoying characters getting more and more irritating by the moment, as weeks somehow manage to pass both with no real indication of actual time passing and with the feel of creeping real-time as well.

This is not the first time in cinema history that the primary focus of a crime drama is on the aftermath of the crime and how it affects the people involved rather than on the crime itself (the actual kidnapping takes around five minutes of screen time) but Reservoir Dogs this ain't. And I say this as someone who always admired Reservoir Dogs a lot more than I actually enjoyed it. The direction in Kidnapping Freddy Heineken is flat, the cinematography ugly and the dialogue stiff, making the crime proceedings an arduous, humourless chore to sit through.  

Worst of all though, is the horrid characterization. It's not simply that these characters are all entirely ill-defined or that they all just come across as people you wouldn't want to spend five minutes with, let alone a month (that is how long I was in the cinema for, right?), it's that this is one of the worst-cast films I've seen in forever.

Here we have a film that is set in Holland, starring a mix of British, Australian and American actors (well, I think American: someone was definitely speaking with a semi-American accent but that may have been by mistake), speaking English with wildly diverse accents from seemingly everywhere other than the Netherlands. And, however much I've liked Jim Sturgess elsewhere, he seems as out of his depth here as every other actor in the film. And yes, I'm including Anthony freakin' Hopkins here as well – as even the former Hannibal Lector seemed completely unable to figure out what the hell to do with the material he was given.

Maybe it's just the case that there was a total communication breakdown between the Swedish director, his English-speaking cast and screenwriter and the Dutch locale but the ineptitude of the filmmaking on display here is something that I haven't seen in a "serious film" in a long, long time. It's probably too forgettable to go up against some of the year's more offensively awful films in the inevitable "worst of the year" lists that will flood this and other websites this coming December but, make no mistake, this terrible, terrible abortion of a film absolutely deserves its place as one of the year's stinkiest films.

Read more on:    sam worthington  |  anthony hopkins  |  movies

Sagren Naidoo 2015/07/25 18:52
Should have had a Heineken to chill
Grant 2015/07/27 16:09
Dont listen to this twat. This was an enjoyable movie and interesting to watch
Marc Bakker 2015/07/27 18:31
Dutch critics said the same....Rather drink the stuff...!
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