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The Heineken Kidnapping

by on August 28, 2012
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If you’re familiar at all with 1998’s “Suicide Kings,” you’ll be pleasantly surprised with “The Heineken Kidnapping.” The film stars Dutch superstar turned American supervillain Rutger Hauer, returning to his acting roots.

Despite the serious case of deja vu, “The Heineken Kidnapping” manages to stand apart as a solid crime thriller. Based upon the actual kidnapping of beer mogul Alfred Heineken, the film is part period piece and part docudrama, although the facts of the case have been stretched and sensationalized for the purpose of the film. Nonetheless, the basic story itself holds up due to the sheer reality of the situation.

The year is 1983, and the men in question are a small group of petty thugs who plan on kidnapping Heineken and holding him ransom for $13 million. Having largely been a villain throughout his career, Hauer makes a refreshing departure to play the victim. The criminals are Rem, Kor, Frans and Jan — a rather tight-knit yet dysfunctional group of young men tied together mainly by their sense of arrogance and greed.

This theme of entitlement among bored young adults is what reminded me most of “Suicide Kings.” However, the crime element and judicial process is closer to the forefront in “The Heineken Kidnapping.” Clocking in at 122 minutes, the film takes its time with pacing and character development. Ultimately, the payoff is well worth the effort. There are some minor pacing issues toward the end of the first half, but the second half of the film is unrelenting in all the right ways.

What starts off as your typical kidnapping/ransom plot turns into a rather intense manhunt film. The movie is conceptualized from a true story and adheres as closely as possible to the original case. The main twist, which brings a human element to the whole affair, is the fact that the father of the main kidnapper (Rem) was at one point employed by Heineken. and became an alcoholic during his tenure there, which provides Rem’s potential revenge factor.

What I found to be the most interesting aspect of the film was this idea that one of the richest and most powerful people in the Netherlands could be abducted, not by a group of professionals, but by rank amateurs. Heineken’s notably reclusive nature, coupled with the dumbfounded stupidity of his kidnappers, provides quite the thrilling storyline. The kidnappers who are the predators for a better part of the movie become the prey in the second half. The two halves meld beautifully to produce a final product that is enthralling from start to finish.

Sadly, the Blu-ray release is pretty bare-bones, especially for a film that garners so much intrigue upon viewing. The only shining beacon of the special features section is a vignette that goes behind the scenes with interviews from Hauer, director Maarten Treurniet and the supporting cast. There is also a small feature about the real kidnappers and Heineken himself, including a tour of the warehouse in which he was sequestered. Unfortunately, the special features don’t live up to the film itself, but the Blu-ray is worth snagging nonetheless.

Film: 3.5 Yaps
Extras: 2 Yaps