MPI // 2011 // 123 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Daryl Loomis (Retired) // August 28th, 2012
Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here by Judge Daryl Loomis regarding certain alcoholic beverages do not reflect those of DVD Verdict or its parent company. Thank you.
In 1864, a Dutch man by the name of Gerard Adriaan Heineken bought a brewery and named it after himself. This beer (enjoyed by many, but swill to me) sits on shelves today in its little green bottle with all-too familiar label. Many outside of the Netherlands may not realize that Alfred Henry (Freddy) Heineken, Gerard's grandson, took over the business in the 1940s and was at the heart of a kidnapping case that captured the attention of all Holland. Rutger Hauer (Hobo with a Shotgun), in his first native-speaking role in nearly three decades, portrays Freddy in a revenge tale I very much wanted to like, the results of which are decidedly mixed.
Amsterdam, 1983. A young kid named Rem (Reinout Scholten van Ascht), getting started with a life of crime, hears about a job and wants in. After a series of robberies that net his gang a tidy sum, they want to taste a much bigger score. It just so happens that Rem's father was once a salesman for Heineken, but fired because the job made him an alcoholic. So, in a job to end all jobs, Rem proposes to kidnap Freddy Heineken and hold him for a king's ransom. Though they successfully complete the kidnapping, the gang is quickly arrested and must face justice. However, legal proceedings and extradition issues do not satisfy Freddy, who begins his own quest for extrajudicial revenge.
Cry me a river, Richie Rich. If you want an audience to sympathize with a kidnapping victim, don't make him a corrupt ultra-rich businessman with governmental ties. I'm not advocate of crime, but I seriously do not care about Freddy's fate. Call me a cold, cynical, anti-corporate liberal shill. I won't deny it. But when a guy has the money and power to cause a riot just to exact revenge on his kidnappers, I'm rooting for the guy to fail. Sadly, Freddy doesn't fail, and this overpriced beer continues to dominate a market that thinks it's too good for Miller Lite.
The Heineken Kidnapping clearly annoyed me, which is a shame because the acting is truly excellent. Rutger Hauer is especially great, because...well, Rutger Hauer is awesome. He's cold, gruff, calculating, and utterly believable as Freddy, engendering no sympathy. Though I don't know whether the character was intended to be sympathetic, he's one of the least likable kidnapping victims I've ever seen. His captors are no better, though their performances are nearly as good, with the film's two main villains -- Rem (Reinout Scholten van Aschat) and Cor (Gijs Naber) -- getting the bulk of the screen time, especially after Heineken is rescued and the legal drama begins.
Bear in mind, these kidnappers are composite characters, and only partially exist within the actual story. Director Maarten Treurniet's The Heineken Kidnapping, based on a book by reporter Peter de Vries, makes no attempt to closely follow the historical evidence and instead takes a more cinematic approach. It's probably better this way. But by keeping the story moving and not getting bogged down in too much legal mumbo jumbo, there will be viewers familiar with the case who will complain about omissions and half-truths.
The Blu-ray disc from MPI for The Heineken Kidnapping won't blow you away on any level, but it's perfectly acceptable in every way. The 2.35:1/1080p high-definition transfer is quite nice, with a clear image, great looking skin tones, deep black levels, bright, clean whites, and good detail throughout both the interior and exterior scenes. The DTS-HD Master Audio track is similarly good, maybe even a little better, with a mix that is nice and full at all times. The dialog is always clear, though there are times where Hauer is speaking German, which is not translated in the subtitles. The score and sound effects are big and bright, as well, so there is little to complain about on the technical details of the disc. The only substantial extra is a twenty minute making-of featurette, which presents the director, Hauer, and a couple of the other stars discussing the production. It's quite interesting and even takes the viewer into the kidnappers's real planning room.
Despite historical inaccuracies and creative license, The Heineken Kidnapping works. I enjoyed the Law and Order approach to its storytelling, with the planning and execution of the crime first, and the court case and revenge angle last. I just wish there was a single character I cared about.
Guilty. Quit drinking Heineken, it's way too expensive for what it offers.
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Scales of Justice
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (Danish)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 123 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Not Rated