21 Days: The Heineken Kidnapping (De Heineken ontvoering): ***

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Run Time: 127 mins. Cert: 15

 

Synopsis: A group of young men decide to kidnap lager mogul Freddy Heineken, will they get away with the one of the most daring crimes in Dutch history?

 

Rutger Hauer returns with his first Dutch Language film in many years. The movie is loosely based on an incident in Holland in 1983, when a local beer magnate was kidnapped from outside his home and held in a small cell.

 

Rem (Reinout Scholten van Aschat) is a small time street thug looking for an easy way out of poverty. When he overhears his brother-in-law Cor (Gijs Naber) plotting a kidnapping, Rem suggests that their target should be the multi-millionaire brewery president Freddy Heineken. It is not just the businessman’s wealth that attracts Rem to this plan. He also blames him for his father’s failing health due to alcoholism after being fired as a Heineken salesman.

 

Heineken is only released 21 days later after the ransom has finally been paid. With the police closing in only Rem and Cor manage to flee to France. Freddy Heineken begins his own quest for revenge, but will he be able to negotiate with the legal authorities for extradition?

 

The narrative is split into two sections, the first half being Rem’s story and the second act is all about Heineken’s anger and what affect this has on his life. But despite a well balanced idea, there is a distinct lack of any character development apart from the protagonist who we learn more about as the story goes on. Apart from a few personal moments with Rem’s family, there is very little known about the kidnapper’s themselves. In fact the kidnapping occurs within the first twenty minutes of the film.

 

There is also too much going on within the piece, with little or no information about the plans. The ransom just seems to happen, nothing is seen from the Heineken family’s point of view or of the actual negotiation. Even the final confrontation is a bit underwhelming, which leaves no resolution for either character.

 

Hauer as always does not disappoint with an emotional and complex portrayal of a man who struggles to understand what has happened to him, but realises what kind of person he has been to the people around him. The character is almost in tone with Ebenezer Scrooge. While Scholten van Aschat brings intensity to his performance, but unfortunately there is no sympathy for his character even with the back story about his father.

 

An interesting kidnapping drama that feels a little rushed even at two hours, but there is enough to keep audiences entertained.

Reviewed by Paul Logan

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