The spare, tough-as-nails German crime melodrama “The Robber” is based, amazingly enough, on the true story of Austrian master criminal and marathon champion Johann Kastenberger.
It centers on stoic Rettenberger (Andreas Lust), a Viennese convict who uses his parole to indulge in his only interests: competitive running and robbing banks at gunpoint. He is extremely accomplished at both.
Director Benjamin Heisenberg refuses to explain his antihero’s motivation. Rettenberger hides his loot in a garbage bag beneath his bed, and never brags about his athletic prowess. He simply trains harder to run more punishing races and to pull more daring heists.
His endorphin-high exploits assume the stature of existential gestures. He’s Nietzsche’s übermensch with a pump gun. The film boasts several turbocharged chase-and-escape sequences, alongside understated character analysis.
Rettenberger isn’t the type to retaliate against someone who wounds him in self-defense, or to harm innocent hostages. But if you prattle on about rehabilitation for ex-cons and second chances, he might bash your skull in.