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Marina Antunes [Film Festival 10.14.10] Germany movie review drama

Year: 2010
Director: Benjamin Heisenberg
Writers: Benjamin Heisenberg,
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: Marina Antunes
Rating: 6.5 out of 10

Johann Rettenberger was quite the (real life) character. A runner before going to jail for attempted robbery, he spends all of his time inside training, running circles in the yard and then on a treadmill which has been specially provided for him because of his talent for running. Johann is also about to get out of prison and his only plan is to get into professional running, even if the prison administrator warns that there isn’t much money in running and that without a back-up plan, he may well end up back behind bars.

So Johann gets out and immediately after his release robs his first bank. He then suits himself up, gets some coaching advice (neither of these are exactly cheap) and enters his first race which brings with it notoriety and a big purse. One would think that would be the end of the story but that wouldn’t make for a very interesting film and as it turns out, Johann kept running professionally while also robbing banks. How the two go hand and hand is a little beyond me and what’s most interesting is that there appears to be no motivation for the robberies as he stashes the money under his bed. Saving up for a rainy day?

That’s the biggest weakness of Benjamin Heisenberg’s The Robber (Der Räuber): lack of motivation. Though the purpose of the first robbery is clear, there appears to be no reason for the ones that follow unless you can count it as part of some strange training session since at one point, we see Johann sync the heart rate monitor he always wears to a computer immediately after a robbery (if that’s the reason, it’s lamely presented).

Even so, The Robber, from scene to scene, is an enjoyable watch mostly because Andreas Lust is a very compelling lead. Heisenberg’s direction builds nice tension and though at first it’s just a lot of Johann running, the mounting pressure soon gets to be too much and the audience is treated to a fantastic third act in which Johann crosses the line from faceless crime to violence and a chase sequence which culminates into a tension filled mountain side search which is beautifully captured by Heisenberg.

Though it sometimes crosses from mediocre to downright awesome, The Robber doesn’t manage to sustain the energy from the opening robbery and Johann’s marathon win through the entire film. The pacing problems may have been lessened by a reworking of the script and tighter editing and though the third act is action packed and on occasion even spectacular, it’s not quite enough to rescue the film from its bloated middle.

Not a complete dud, The Robber is an interesting twist on the bank heist film and although it doesn’t always work, it does offer some impressive moments which suggest good things to come from Heisenberg.

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