Kidnapping Mr. Heineken (2015)
Dir. Daniel Alfredson
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, Ryan Kwanten, Mark van Eeuwen, Tom Cocquerel, Jemima West
Review By Greg Klymkiw
By 1986, many young North American lads of distinction had abandoned the domestic brands of beer their fathers drank and opted for the prissy Dutch elixir of hops and brewers' yeast in the imported long-necked green glass bottles which adorned the majority of tables in many a university pub throughout the 80s. After all, its dashing founder Freddy Heineken had himself become a household name a mere three years earlier when he'd been kidnapped and held for ransom in a daring caper pulled off by five good friends with no criminal experience whatsoever and elicited the highest payout of the time.
All this would change, though, when David Lynch released Blue Velvet, which featured the notorious exchange of dialogue between upright young whippersnapper Jeffrey Beaumont (Kyle McLachlan) and the sexually deviant thug Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). It went thus:
Frank Booth: What kind of beer do you like?This oft-quoted exchange, rather than sending the European brew of choice for North American academic effete elites even further into the stratosphere, managed to inspire a healthy return to the working class American beer of American Dads. No matter, though, as the aforementioned daring kidnapping and the dogged pursuit of the kidnappers and meticulous research of crime journalist Peter R. de Vries worked considerable magic upon the Heineken brand's worldwide sales for many years nonetheless.
Jeffrey Beaumont: Heineken.
Frank Booth: Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!
It's taken over 30 years for a big-screen feature film to be made of this notorious abduction, but alas, the wait has yielded mixed results. A decent screenplay by William Brookfield condenses the intricacies of the massive de Vries text superbly and focuses mostly upon the close friendship of the five kidnappers as well as the claustrophobic and tense setting of the holding cell Heineken is held in.
The direction by camera jockey Daniel Alfredson, who helmed The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest, the two remaining parts of the original Lisbeth Salander Millennium Trilogy based on Stieg Larson's bestselling novels, here, as in the two uneven followups to Niels Arden Oplev's superbly directed The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, yields mixed results.
Alfredson pulls of the early going rather well as he introduces us to the five young pals attempting to establish their own business during the early 80s economic downturn. Upon being turned down for bank loans, the men come up with a plan to kidnap Heineken.
Realizing they'll be pegged as amateurs by the authorities, the friends pull off a huge bank robbery to finance the perfect crime of abduction in order to make law enforcement believe they're a well-funded criminal organization. So long as Alfredson sticks to the intricacies of character, the film is reasonably compelling - especially during the sequences in their hiding spot one they have Heineken in their grasp.
As he did with the two Dragon/Millennium pictures, Alfredson displays his utter ineptitude with action and hard-core suspense. His herky-jerky, sloppily shot and edited action throw the film completely off-kilter and render a finished product that's infuriating since the writing and performances are so genuinely fine. (Anthony Hopkins, not chewing the scenery as per usual, delivers an especially engaging and revelatory performance as Heineken - maybe one of the best he's delivered in years.)
Kidnapping Mr. Heineken is pretty much a mixed bag of nuts. It's a story worth telling as a film, but as directed, the picture is spoiled by a few too many unripe or rotten ingredients.
THE FILM CORNER RATING: ** 2-Stars
Kidnapping Mr, Heineken opens today in a limited theatrical release day-and-date with access to VOD via VVS Films.