Portraying Heineken, who passed away in 2002, is Rutger Hauer. As good as he was as the Hobo with a Shotgun, that flick is a throwaway goof, whereas this carries heft and gives him a better vehicle for the dramatic might he rarely gets to show — at least in American productions; this is a product of his native Netherlands.
The culprits are a group of four men who work at a construction office of some sort (about the only detail the movie is vague about). The mastermind is Rem (Reinout Scholten van Aschat, who gets quite a juicy character arc of quiet innocent to Scarface wannabe), who’s looked down upon by his co-workers for his youth; he doesn’t even have his driver’s license yet. After researching Heineken’s every move for days, he brings the idea to his brother-in-law (Gijs Naber, Black Book), who proposes it to their frighteningly hotheaded leader, Frans (Teun Kuilboer).
Director/co-writer Maarten Treuriet’s film is actually like two: The first hour belongs to the kidnappers, from planning to execution, while the second is given to Heineken, who seeks revenge using the greatest weapons at his disposal: money and power. He holds surpluses in both.
While Treuriet takes pains to make its characters look authentically early ’80s, The Heineken Kidnapping crackles with the crisp sleekness of today’s modern overseas thrillers. Length could’ve been the fact-based film’s downfall, but that midpoint split works wonders in making it feel more compact than it actually is.
It helps, too, that Hauer — more seen than heard in the first half, and even then sparingly — gets to command that second half. He didn’t have to work that hard to do so, but he invests his all; therefore, his good guy isn’t 100 percent good. In fact, he’s even closer to his captors than Heineken would’ve liked to admit. —Rod Lott