Viewers expecting an absorbing thriller will be disappointed by "The Robber." the second feature from Austrian director Benjamin Heisenberg ("Sleeper"). This adaptation of a novel by Martin Prinz about the real-life Austrian bandit-marathoner known as "Pump-gun Ronnie" takes a muted, austere, non-psychological approach to the criminal, who is given no personality apart from a compulsion to run and rob banks. With no emotional engagement or stylistic hooks, there's not much compelling viewers to engage with what's happening onscreen.
The film opens with protagonist Johann Rettenberger (Andreas Lust) repeatedly rounding a prison-yard track and then pounding a treadmill inside his tiny cell. The images serve as a metaphor for his character someone stuck in a cycle of fruitless repetition.
When he's released, Johann tells prissy parole officer (Markus Schleinzer) that he's tired of running in circles, but it soon becomes clear he won't change his ways. He returns to Vienna and resumes robbing banks. Notoriously referred to as "Pump-gun Ronnie," after the Ronald Reagan mask he wears and the shotgun he uses to execute his robberies. Even to this day, Rettenberger still holds the record time in the Bergmarathon, a famous race held in the Austrian Alps. Technical aspects of the film are respectable, and the incorporation of Johann into actual Vienna Marathon provides a level of authenticity.
After being released from prison, Johann runs into Erika (Franziska Weisz) at the Job Center that helps convicts find work. The dialogue makes it clear they've met before, but the narrative annoyingly withholds any connection to their past. We never gain insight into why the well-to-do Erika is involved with an uncharismatic ex-con. It's yet another glaring example of mitigating audience involvement. Given that screenwriters Heisenberg and Prinz employed artistic license to give the protagonist a different name (the actual bandit was called Johann Kastenberger) and a slightly different fate, it's baffling that they should choose to construct their story so anti-dramatically.
We never really get a sense of who Johann is. He is expressionless, cold-hearted, and remains distant throughout-- thus making it impossible to feel any kind of connection with him. Heisenberg's treatment vividly communicates Rettenberger's neurotic defiance and destructive behavior, but that's no substitute for enabling the viewer to become invested in the character's fate. Although Heisenberg tries to suggest the robberies provide Johann with an adrenaline rush similar to that he experiences while running marathons, the character fails to show any sense of pleasure or catharsis that would make this parallel interesting. It fails to create a sense of audience identification. Additionally, the robberies fail to generate any powerful suspense or tension for viewers. To Heisenberg credit, the film offers impressive chase sequences shot with great skill that can compete with Hollywood's finest. It is unfortunate because this film has a lot going for it. Director Benjamin Heisenberg is not an amateur filmmaker and he constructs this film with fine craftsmanship. To metaphorically bring this review to it's conclusion, "The Robber" runs in circles without reaching a finish line of much consequence.… Full Review »
10great movie....suprised on the neg feedback.. i did enjoy all the twists in the film and most importantly thats its a true story ( as they claim it to be). If you enjoyed "the town" with ben afflick, then you'll definately enjoy this. A marathon runner who has a habit of robbing banks in order to make a living, very suspensfull.… Full Review »
This review contains spoilers, click full review link to view. Man has been running for 6 years, while in prison for robbery. Gets out, first day commits a robbery. Throughout the film he uses his talents as a long distance runner to keep away from the law. Might be interesting. He hooks up with an old friend? Lover? The daughter of a friend? Who knows; we aren't told. After a few nights she is madly in love with him. He continues to rob and she finds out. Why? He hides the money and his disguise under his bed. Hmmm. Does he really want to be caught? Then he kills his parole officer (after winning a race, with the trophy no less) because the officer tries to help him. (although he never checks in with him, never gets a job, how is he supposed to live)? Oh yeah, at some point in the film the parole officer says he doesn't need money. Why? He takes silly risk after silly risk and for what? Perhaps it's a psychological study of an addiction to the thrill of the chase.
there is no chemistry, I didn't care about the man, there is no one else in the film to want to care about, or even be interested in. The man hardly speaks, nothing about his background, he is wooden as is the girlfriend. Not even it being based on a true story makes it worthwhile. Maybe it should be on the reality show, Worlds Dumbest Crooks.
Perhaps I do not understand the subtle nuances of foreign films. the poorer the film the longer the review. I could write forever. But why bother? Skip it please. better yet, watch it and tell m why it's so good? Even why it's even average?
Attention critics who when they see something that is not the usual fare, it gets raves - the emperor has no clothes!… Full Review »