The Heineken Kidnapping

The Heineken Kidnapping (De Heineken ontvoering) poster

A scheme hatched by a group of disenchanted co-workers, they were ostensibly led by the boastful Frans, but thinking he knew best and didn’t need anyone else his temper was a liability which threatened their secrecy. Overhearing Frans having a tantrum at work when their initial plans fell through, Rem approached them and made a suggestion which was immediately rebuffed, but putting the hours in, tracking his suggested target in a variety of disguises, his proposal was the one which was put into action.

So it was that on Wednesday 9th November 1983 Alfred Heineken, chairman of the board of directors of the international beer company of the same name, was kidnapped along with his chauffeur and imprisoned in a hut in the harbour area of Amsterdam for a period of twenty-one days while a ransom of 35 million guilders was negotiated and transferred, Heineken rescued by the police at that time while the hunt for the criminal gang continued across borders.

The Heineken Kidnapping (De Heineken ontvoering); Rem Humbrechts (Reinout Scholten van Aschat) plans and prepares.

Filmed by director Maarten Treurniet from a script co-written with Kees van Beijnum, The Heineken Kidnapping (De Heineken ontvoering) dramatises these events and the extended aftermath into the legal wranglings of jurisdiction and extradition with Teun Kuilboer, Reinout Scholten van Aschat and Gijs Naber as criminal conspirators Frans, Rem and his brother-in-law Cor and the great Rutger Hauer as Freddy Heineken.

Filmed with an eye on the dinginess of seventies holdovers rather than the excesses of the later eighties, the gang all from working class backgrounds with Rem still living with his parents in their apartment which backed onto the brewery, his resentment of Heineken stemming from his father having been sacked from his position as a sales representative for his alcoholic tendencies, the story is told without overt embellishment though the adherence to the facts is not absolute.

The Heineken Kidnapping (De Heineken ontvoering); proof of life is established for Freddy Heineken (Rutger Hauer).

The police investigation primarily offscreen the focus is on the kidnappers, often alone and silent as they take turns to monitor Heineken chained in his cell, and there is little emotion other than frustration and anger on display either from them or the taciturn victim to transmute the events to drama, a dedication to avoiding sensationalism which is perhaps admirable but also fails to engage the viewer particularly as the narrative trudges from holding cell and hotel rooms to courtroom.

Treurniet avoiding anything which might be termed overt style in shooting, editing, or soundtrack, presumably wishing to avoid glamourising either the crime or the violence involved, while events roughly as they happened might have been enough to carry The Heineken Kidnapping had they been presented in a compelling manner that is not the case, though filmed in 2011 some additional twists had yet to be revealed, “Rem Humbrechts” (based on Willem Holleeder, currently serving a life term in prison) not convicted for the 2003 murder of his accomplice Cor and four others until 2019.

The Heineken Kidnapping is streaming on Arrow now

The Heineken Kidnapping (De Heineken ontvoering); Frans, Jan, Cor and Rem (Teun Kuilboer, Korneel Evers, Gijs Naber and Reinout Scholten van Aschat) split the ransom and head out.



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