The Heineken Kidnapping

| August 29, 2012

Based on true events, The Heineken Kidnapping tells the story of one of the most notorious crimes in the history of The Netherlands.  Alfred Heineken (Rutger Hauer; Batman Begins) was the head of the Heineken Beer Corporation when he was taken hostage by four young men in 1983.  Heineken was kept in a small soundproof room for days while waiting for his ransom to be paid; suffering from crippling nightmares even after his eventual rescue.

This is the first film Rutger Hauer has done in his native Dutch in over 30 years, and it gives the production a lot of weight to have such a huge star behind it.  The rest of the cast is thrown in and forced to keep up, which gives the film a great energy that helps carry us through to the end.  The youngest member of the kidnappers, Rem (Reinout Scholten Van Aschat), stands out by perfectly balancing a childish naivete with being legitimately scary.  Even in the end, he is Heineken’s biggest nightmare and the two actors play off each other extremely well for having very little time on screen together.

There is some inevitable boring points to the film.  Since it’s based very closely on the real Heineken kidnapping, there are points in the story that would be cut out of a fictional piece.  A scene where Cor’s (Gijs Naber) wife is about to give birth, but he has to leave her to flee the police is good, but could have been lost to clean up the pacing.  Again, if this were fiction.  Actually, it’s very impressive how closely the filmmakers apparently stuck to the original.  To the extent where they shot in the actual locations most of these events took place, and used actual objects from the kidnapping as props for the film.  One example that stands out is that they used the actual room where the kidnappers planned to abduct Heineken for the scene in the movie where they’re planning the kidnapping.  They even used the same table and chairs the real kidnappers used.  It makes the existence of the film a bit more interesting to me knowing that.

I don’t want to get into any sort of spoiler territory.  Those familiar with the story already will know that Heineken was found and his kidnappers were apprehended.  But they may not know what happened next, and while I’d love to respond to it in detail, I don’t want to give anything away.  All I’ll say is that it’s a fantastic story, and executed very well by the cast and crew here.

Special features include a behind the scenes featurette in which the director talks about the evolution of the project, as well as the settings and objects they used from the original crime.  Also, there’s the original theatrical trailer, but nothing else.  The Netherlands is a visually interesting location, so this may be worth picking up on blu-ray instead of DVD if you have the choice.

Available on Blu-ray and DVD on August 28

About the Author:

Joe Ketchum Joe Sanders is a podcaster, playwright, and college instructor in Kalamazoo, MI. He has a master's degree in playwriting and a bachelor's degree in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where he currently teaches thought and writing, and is the host of the Quote Unquote Guilty podcast, part of the Word Salad Network.
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