Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Robber (2011)

The RobberThere's a new "running" film available on DVD/Blu-ray. It's "The Robber" (aka Der Räuber), which is the Benjamin Heisenberg-directed film based on the true story of Austrian bank robber/marathoner, Johann Kastenberger. The screenplay was adapted from Martin Prinz's 2006 book, "On the Run." The film made the film festival rounds in the spring, but the DVD/Blu-ray release will be most's first exposure to the film. It's also available on Netflix Instant. The film is in German, but is sub-titled in English and is very easy to follow, as the dialogue is very deliberate.

So who was Johann Kastenberger? According to the film, and to Wikipedia, Kastenberger was a convicted bank robber, who was first arrested in 1977 for robbing an Austrian bank. He served a 7-year prison term and trained extensively while in person. Upon release, he made an instant splash in the marathon, setting an Austrian national record (the film shows 2:20, but I can't corroborate that anywhere online and haven't read Prinz's book yet). The film does show him winning the ultra difficult Kainach Mountain Marathon in a still standing record of 3:16. Not long after being released from prison the first time around, Kastenberger reverts to his bank-robbing ways and becomes known as "Shotgun Ronnie," due to his penchant for wearing a Ronald Reagan mask during his robberies. This is something that is left out of the film.

Andreas Lust does a very passable job in portraying a competitive runner. He's fit, has good form and most importantly, looks the part. There are some excellent action scenes in "The Robber," particularly one after a robbery nearly goes awry and he runs through multiple buildings being followed by a single camera, and ends up hopping on a trail to evade the police. It's a very entertaining film and is well worth 90 minutes of your time.

The Robber is loosely based on a true story of a champion marathon runner who also robbed banks in his spare time. The cinematography in this movie is fantastic the running and chasing scenes where the camera follows is as good or better than any hollywood production, overall this is well worth having a view on a quiet evening...

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Hmm, I wanted to like this film a lot more than I did by the time the credits rolled. The story of a talented marathon runner who is also a cold blooded, unfeeling bank robber/killer. As a runner with nowhere near the talent of the 'anti hero' of the film played by Andreas Lust, the scenes of him running throughout look better than any I can ever recall in a movie. As the film opens Andreas gets out of prison for bank robbery and immediately returns to the only two things he lives for--running and crime. Its unclear why he does either activity as neither one seems to bring him pleasure or meaning in his life any more than the beautiful girlfriend he resumes living with upon release. In fact the 'why' of what is driving Andreas in his life is never explored or revealed in this film. He's gifted athletically; his Parole Agent & others bend over backwards to help him; and yet he seems to be a complete, unfeeling, 'zombie' hurtling towards self destruction. 'The Robber' seems to be driven by the theme of nihilism to its quiet, near wordless conclusion. Be aware this is not a 'satisfactory ending', 'it all makes sense now'film, but it is compelling & well done.

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This movie has it's moments, but is a missed opportunity. I have never watched a film with such an interesting subject matter be so boring most of the tiime. There is virtually no character development. The chase scenes are extremely well done and that is what saves this movie from being a total disappointment. I had read many positive reviews and was expecting more. I am an American that really enjoys foreign films. I hope someone else tells this story again that is capable of really good story telling. It's clear that the film crew is very talented to do some of the things they do, but someone really needs to re-tell this story and do it justice. Definitely rent before buying. The PQ & AQ are top notch.

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Must see... Not your typical Hollywood smash & grab shoot em up style action flick. Great performances by both the main Character and supporting. Great ending.

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