The victim is the eponymous character, and super-rich alcohol tycoon Mr. Heineken, played by Anthony Hopkins. Set in Amsterdam during the 1980s, a collective of merciless, seemingly subservient criminals, led by Cor Van Hout (Jim Sturgess) and Willem Holleeder (Sam Worthington) are fed up of making ends meet, and want to strike it rich, and so take in the influential magnate and his hapless driver (David Dencik), to then demand an unfathomable ransom fee – and yet it’s an amount of money that Heineken possesses – question is, will his people pay up?
Alfredson – known predominantly for his endeavours in the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo franchise – is evidently vying for the investment of the audience in his protagonists, painting them all out to be regular, everyday guys, playing heavily on their relatable traits, and flaws, while highlighting issues such as Cor’s girlfriend being pregnant, as a means of emphasising their humanity. Though this is essential, and their amateurish, clumsy approach is endearing, you never quite root for their cause in the same way you were able to with the leading roles in Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, for instance. Much of this is down to the lack of individualism, with each character devoid of any palpable, identifiable personality traits or idiosyncrasies that allows for you to care for their well-being and wish for them to come out on top.
The lack of authenticity is another reason why it’s a struggle to abide by this tale, and while it may seem pedantic to point it out, the varying accents from the protagonists is somewhat distracting. In a more surrealistic endeavour such as The Grand Budapest Hotel, that’s not an issue, but in a film based on real events and one taking a naturalistic approach, it proves to be detrimental. Given they’re all supposed to be Dutch natives, Sturgess maintains his English accent, while Worthington keeps his Aussie. There’s even shades of Welsh to Hopkins, who is wasted in this particular production. Not only as an actor, but as a character too – as we spend so much time with the captors, that we deviate carelessly away from the victim, and he’s arguably the most nuanced and interesting role of them all, as more of the focus should be on his journey, rather than that of the perpetrators’.
Nonetheless, it is unique to see a tale of this ilk from the perspective of the detainer, rather than the detainee. But regrettably any such innovation is short lived, in a film that is devalued by its own commitment to genre tropes. Every time you feel like you may just be getting embroiled in this production, generic, hackneyed music is implemented, cheapening the experience, and sadly leaving this feature more akin to a cliched, Saturday night thriller you might stumble across on your free-view, rather than the immersive, cinematic experience it’s striving for.