Flying the flag for Holland in the flourishing movie genre of 1970s and 1980s euro-terrorism reminiscence, The Heineken Kidnapping recounts how one of the flat country’s best-known and wealthiest men was taken hostage for cash.
the flag for Holland in the flourishing movie genre of 1970s and 1980s
euro-terrorism reminiscence, The
Heineken Kidnapping recounts how one of the flat country’s best-known
and wealthiest men was taken hostage for cash.
With an honesty that is to be applauded, The Heineken
Kidnapping sets its stall out right at the start – this film may be based on
real events but most of it is fiction, so shouldn’t be seen as gospel.
Although all based-on-true-events movies take some
liberties with the actuality, here it only works to lessen the impact of an
event that shocked Holland at the time.
What’s true is that Freddy Heineken was taken hostage
by four builders, and held in an improvised cell for three weeks before the
demanded ransom – some 35 million guilders – was paid.
What’s fiction is the precise identity of the
criminals and the extent to which Heineken, played here by the grande dame
of Dutch cinema Rutger Hauer, later sought revenge on the transgressors.
The youngest of them, Rem (Bobby Gillespie-lookalike Renoit
Scholten van Aschat) tormented Heineken during the three weeks, ostensibly
in revenge for the illness of his father, a long-serving Heineken employee
driven to alcoholism by his job.
Heineken, offended by both the torment and the
accusation of neglect, serves up some serious retribution, using his influence
to bring the kidnappers to justice.
The lead up to the kidnapping and the three week hostage
stand-off itself, which take up broadly the first half of the film, build up
quite nicely. The plan is hatched and carried out with a degree of
professionalism by the amateur extortionists.
While interred Hauer barely passes a word, and spends
his time looking frail. Outside, his kidnappers play it cool and get on with
business as usual, waiting for the money to be handed over.
The second part, post-release, follows Heineken’s
revenge – Rem and his brother-in-law and co-conspirator Cor (Gijs Naber)
hotfoot it to France, from where much to Heineken’s fury an extended game of
extradition cat-and-mouse is played. His vengeance eventually plays out with a
spot of mob justice in the Franco-Dutch Caribbean island of St. Martin.
Fans of European terrorism nostalgia like Carlos,
Munich and One Day in September may find something to get
involved with here. But this lacks the tension or action of any of those.
Hauer is always good, but is constrained here by the
limitations that the plot puts on him. Portrayed both as victim and as villain,
it’s hard to care when he seeks redemption for himself and punishment for his
The Heineken Kidnapping is let down by adding too much
fiction to the facts – uninvolving side stories with Rem’s family and girlfriend
add nothing but a frothy top.
The end result is disappointing – a premium story
watered down into small beer.