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Review: The Robber

 An existential fable worthy of Camus
By PETER KEOUGH  |  May 12, 2011
3.5 3.5 Stars

Unlike his French counterpart in Jean-François Richet's Mesrine, Johann Rettenberger, the title felon of Benjamin Heisenberg's stark and electrifying The Robber, is no chatterbox. Asked by his girlfriend what kind of life he wants from his dual career of running marathons and pulling off bank heists, he says, "What I do has nothing to do with what you call life." Otherwise, the dialogue consists mostly of the talk coming from the radios in the cars he steals for getaways — whenever, that is, he's not literally on the run. The film is based on the real-life story of Austrian criminal legend Johann Kastenberger, and Andreas Lust (Revanche) portrays Rettenberger as nearly robotic, his face less expressive than the rubber mask he wears when he pulls off a job. Nonetheless, this is the most potent crime movie since Richet's epic; with his taut rhythms, poetic imagery, and assaultive action, Heisenberg transforms the thrills of the genre into an existential fable worthy of Camus.

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