Kidnapping Mr. Heineken

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
Kidnapping Mr. Heineken Movie Poster Image
Fact-based thriller lacks spark; some violence, language.
  • R
  • 2015
  • 95 minutes

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

There's a secondary theme about the corrupting power of money; Heineken says that you can be rich in two ways, with friends or money, but you can't have both.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Criminals pay the consequences for their crimes, but there are no role models; according to the end credits, some of them went right back to a life of crime after serving their time in prison.

Violence

Guns and shooting, but no victims. Fighting, beating up squatters in a building. Car chases/crashes. General tension, fighting, and anxiety.

Sex

Brief scene of buying handcuffs in a sex shop; the clerk flirts with the customer.

Language

Very strong language, including many uses of "f--k," "s--t," "ass," "a--hole," "p---y," "d--k," and "damn," plus "for Christ's sake."

Consumerism

Heineken beer is mentioned many times, in reference to one of the main characters.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Scenes of social drinking in a pub, plus beer drinking in a background way. Cigarette smoking. References to Freddy Heineken being a famous maker of beer.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Kidnapping Mr. Heineken is a thriller based on the real-life 1983 abduction of beer king Freddy Heineken in the Netherlands. But aside from the true-story aspect and a good performance by Anthony Hopkins (as Heineken), the movie isn't very thrilling or involving, and it's likely that few teens will be interested. There's some violence (guns are fired, cars chase and crash, and there's fighting, punching, and shoving), as well as general tension, anxiety, and arguing. Language is very strong, with multiple uses of "f--k," plus many uses of "s--t" and "p---y." Characters drink frequently and smoke cigarettes, typically in social settings or in a background way. One brief scene takes place in a sex shop (the male clerk flirts with one of the guys).

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What's the story?

In 1983 in the Netherlands, five friends led by soon-to-be brothers-in-law Cor Van Hout (Jim Sturgess) and Willem Holleeder (Sam Worthington) attempt to get a legitimate bank loan to start a business but are turned down. Looking for a significant source of income, they hit on a plan to kidnap the country's richest person, beer king Freddy Heineken (Anthony Hopkins), and demand a huge ransom. After meticulous planning, they pull off the job, grabbing Heineken and his chauffeur, and settle in waiting for the money to come in. But the weeks roll by, and nerves become increasingly frayed. Finally the payoff comes, and it's huge; but can they get away with it and still remain friends?

Is it any good?

There's no real suspense in this film. Daniel Alfredson, who directed the second and third films in the hit Swedish Girl with the Dragon Tattoo trilogy, The Girl Who Played with Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest, should be familiar with complex crime films -- but even though truth is often stranger than fiction, KIDNAPPING MR. HEINEKEN doesn't spark to life. We know going in that this case involved the highest ransom ever paid at the time, so we can guess what the outcome of the story is.

That, plus the details of the kidnapping aren't quite as nutty or as inventive as a fiction film might have been. The tensest moment comes when the kidnappers realize they left the ransom note on a copy machine; they retrieve it, and everything's OK. The characters never feel alive, and we're not even sure how they know each other. In their roles, Sturgess and Worthington can only give middling performances. But Hopkins is entertaining in brief spurts as the chatty victim.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Kidnapping Mr. Heineken's violence. Is it necessary to the story? Are the characters to be admired for avoiding violence when they can?

  • Does Heineken seem like a real-life role model, a self-made billionaire? Does he have wisdom to share? Does his product (beer) affect who he is?

  • Do you agree with the idea that you can be rich with friends or rich with money, but not both? How or why?

Movie details

For kids who love thrills

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