By: Addison Wylie
Tell me if you’ve heard this before. A group of hotheaded blokes are in search for quick cash. In order to collect, they kidnap a wealthy figure. Some of the kidnappers have a personal connection to the victim, and one of the ragtag crooks has “a lot on the line” after having found out his wife is expecting another child. He’s also a thief who has private chats with the hostage.
Kidnapping Mr. Heineken does the job, I suppose. The film fits its seedy, secretive atmosphere through the gritty cinematography, there are a few exciting chase sequences, and no one in the cast gives a bad performance. Even when featured actors seem to be slumming it (such as Anthony Hopkins, who plays the kidnapped Mr. Heineken), they still sustain their believable, frantic nervousness. Also, Sam Worthington and Jim Sturgess play two of the kidnappers. It’s clear to see that this is the type of weighty material the performers find gratification in – the audience receives satisfaction from them as well.
But, as moviegoers who are expecting crime films to evolve, when do we start asking for more? While Kidnapping Mr. Heineken does nothing wrong, it’s incredibly generic. Screenwriter William Brookfield (adapting from Peter R. de Vries’ biographical book ‘The Kidnapping of Alfred Heineken’) has drawn up a movie that’s by-the-numbers despite working with a story that’s hardly been tapped into before. Daniel Alfredson (who directed the latter films in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy) helms this feature as if it’s another brick in the wall of crime thrillers. Brookfield and Alfredson should be thanking their lucky stars that they were blessed with such a ripened cast.
So, I ask again: when do we start asking for a little bit of change from filmmakers who make crime movies? Backtracking to the aforementioned Millennium trilogy, Niels Arden Oplev took Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and crafted a masterfully articulate and creative mystery. That film and a few other examples (The Dark Knight, American Hustle, Life of Crime) show that there are adventurous storytellers out there willing to break the rules.
Kidnapping Mr. Heineken barely wets our whistle because it’s been presented to us in a way that suggests the filmmakers just didn’t care.