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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday June 20, 2019 

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SYNOPSIS: The inside story of the planning, execution, rousing aftermath and ultimate downfall of the kidnappers of beer tycoon Alfred "Freddy" Heineken (Anthony Hopkins), which resulted in the largest ransom ever paid for an individual.

Review by Louise Keller:
The story of the kidnapping of billionaire beer tycoon, Alfred Heineken is a fascinating one, especially as the kidnappers actually get their hands on the loot. For a short while, in any event. The disappointment is that this film adaptation of Peter R. de Vries' book recounting the events from the planning stages, the depiction of the kidnapping itself and what happens afterwards lacks tension and is rather dull, the most interesting aspect being Anthony Hopkins' portrayal of Heineken.

When the film begins in 1982 Amsterdam, we meet a group of working class friends whose entrepreneurial attempts have failed. The squatters who have taken hold of the property they want to offer the bank as collateral for a loan, have more rights than they do. Attempts to physically bully the squatters fail miserably. It is over a glass of champagne on a canal barge, after declaring no interest in getting a real job and refusing to be miserable, that Cor Van Hout (Jim Sturgess) hatches a plan ('something organized; something big'), justifying it by saying that a crime is only a wager in which liberty is pitted against the payoff.

Creating an illusion that the kidnapping is organized by a powerful organization or terrorist group begin. Cash flow is need and there is a new visit to the bank - this time, wearing masks and carrying machine guns. Somehow, it is hard to reconcile with the complex plans being put into place and the personalities involved - the reality is a little like a comedy script, except it isn't funny.

The snatching of Heineken seems a tad too easy, but the conflict between the group members is convincing, as the tension and pressures of all the elements become too much for them. I like the fact that Heineken doesn't react as his captors expect, asking for Bang Bang chicken with extra chilli sauce, instead of eating the ham sandwiches he is given. The most potent scene in the one in which the captive appears to have the mental advantage over his captors, when he tells them: 'There are two ways a man can be rich in this world; he can have a lot of money or he can have a lot of fiends. But he cannot have both.'

The mainstay of the film concentrates on the relationship between Cor and Willem Holleeder (Sam Worthington), neither of which is particularly likeable. They continually have a difference of opinion when the police does not initially respond to the ransom demands The central performances (Sturgess, Worthington and Ryan Kwanten) are all fine; it is the script and direction that lets the film down. The ransom is the largest ever paid for an individual; the plan takes two years to put into effect. The fact that we do not engage with the characters is one of the film's problems and instead of a climactic finish, everything fizzles - a bit like a pint of beer that has gone flat.

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Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

(US, 2015)

CAST: Jim Sturgess, Sam Worthington, Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Kwanten, Jemima West, Yolanthe Cabau, David Dencik

PRODUCER: Judy Cairo, Howard Meltzer, Michael A. Simpson

DIRECTOR: Daniel Alfredson

SCRIPT: William Brookfield (book by Peter R. de Vries)


EDITOR: Hakan Karlsson

MUSIC: Lucas Vidal

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Hubert Pouille, Christopher Stull

RUNNING TIME: 95 minutes



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