The Robber (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 25, 2012 by  

An exciting heist, action  film based on the real life story of Austria’s most wanted-bank robber!

Images courtesy of © 2009 Nikolaus Greyhalter Filmproductions/Peter Heilrath Filmproduktion/ZDF/2011 Kino Lorber Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Robber (Der Räuber)


DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 2:35:1, DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, German with optional English Subtitles,

COMPANY: Kino Lorber

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: October 18, 2011

Directed by Benjamin Heisenberg

Screenplay by Benjamin Heisenberg, Martin Prinz

Based on the novel by Martin Prinz

Produced by Burkhard Althoff, Anne Even, Nikolaus Geyrhalter, Markus Glaser, Peter Heilrath, Michael Kitzberger, Heinrich Mis, Susanne Spellitz, Wolfgang Widerhofer

Music by Lorenz Dangel

Cinematography by Reinhold Vorschneider

Edited by Benjamin Heisenberg, Andrea Wagner

Casting by Markus Schleinzer

Production Design by Renate Schmaderer

Costume Design by Stephanie Rieb


Andreas Lust as Johann Rettenberger

Franziska Weisz as Erika

Florian Wotruba as Markus Kreczi

Johann Bednar as Kommissaar Lukas

Markus Schleinzer as Bewahrunsbeamter

Peter Vilnai as Alter Mann

Max Edelbacher as Kommissar Seidl

A champion marathoner leads a double life as a serial bank robber, sprinting between fixes (and away from police cavalcades) as many as three times a day. A lean, visceral study of pathological compulsion from Austrian director Benjamin Heisenberg, featuring a riveting central performance by Andreas Lust (Revanche).

It was known as the largest investigation in Austria’s post-war history.  In the late ’80s, over 450 police officers trying to capture the most elusive criminal in the country, Austrian marathon runner Johann Kastenberger.  A man known for robbing banks while wearing a Ronald Regan mask and was known as “Shotgun Ronnie”, also a man wanted for murder.

Austrian author Martin Prinz would write the novel “Der Räuber” loosely based on the true-life story which would later receive a film adaptation courtesy of director/screenwriter Benjamin Heisenberg (“Sleeper”, “At the Lake”).  The film was nominated for the Golden Bear at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival.

The film would star actor Andreas Lust (“Revanche”, “Fast Forward”, “Munich”) and actress Franziska Weisz (“Hotel”, “Dog Days”).

“The Robber” is a film about Austrian marathon runner Johann Rettenberger (played by Andreas Lust), a criminal who was incarcerated for six years in prison for attempted armed robbery and is now being paroled.  His parole officer hops that Johann has changed in prison and will no longer continue his criminal ways but not long after his release, Johann steals a car and robs a bank, wearing a mask and armed with a shotgun.

While trying to live a double life and trying to find work, he runs into a friend and social worker named Erika (played by Franziska Weisz) and she gives Johann a temporary place to stay.  And while on the outside, Johann looks as if he has straightened his life out as he develops a relationship with Erika, takes part in a few marathons and breaks records and becoming a popular athlete, his parole officer is proud that Johann has straightened out his life.  But at the same time, the parole officer is weary that he can relapse into his criminal ways and must do what he can to prevent himself from having these urges.

Needless to say that each time Johann’s parole officer comes to meet him, he gets aggravated.  But the parole officer just wants to make sure that he continues to keep in contact with him and provide his address of where he is staying at.

So, while he has this intimate relationship with Erika, Johann continues to rob more banks, steal more cars, carjacks them with people inside and the more he continues, things become much more riskier as the police are escalating their search for him.  And a store camera was able to pickup a few shots of Johann from the back and the side.

For Erika, after seeing the photos in the newspaper, she becomes suspicious that Johann is back to his criminal ways.

One day after winning a marathon, his parole officer comes to visit him and ask him where his address is.  Johann becomes more aggravated to the point that he takes his trophy and kills his parole officer with it.

When he gets home, he finds Erika wearing his robber mask and that she has also found the stash of money he stole.  While, Erika tries to get him to change his life, it is too late.  He’s in deep trouble and now he’s wanted by authorities for multiple robberies and murder.

And thus, the largest manhunt in Austria begins as officers try to capture Johann.


“The Robber” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1 aspect ratio).  The transfer looks absolutely wonderful as it features the beautiful cinematography of Reinhold Vorschneider.  While overall picture quality is more towards the “cooler” side in terms of colors, the overall image looks good with some indoor scenes having higher levels of noise.  But for those most part, there is wonderful amount of detail, you can see the detail of clothing and surfaces of objects.

If I did have a negative about the video, it was not more of the video but the fact that some scenes are extremely dark.  From the lovemaking scenes between Johann and Erika, for several minutes, you can barely make out certain images but I suppose that Reinhold Vorschneider wanted to capture natural colors and natural environments which I do understand.

But sticking with Kino’s rule of non-modifications to their Blu-ray release, the overall picture quality for “The Robber” is very good!


“Der Räuber” is presented in German DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and the lossless soundtrack is primarily dialogue, but there are some scenes such as Johann stealing a car and we are greeted with various styles of music.  The film also presents quite a bit of ambient noise, may it be during scenes with crowds at the marathon to the sounds of the police (cars or copters) that are chasing after him.

But overall, lossless audio is good for this film.  Nothing too immersive but works perfectly for this film.

Optional English subtitles are presented.


“The Robber” comes with Kino Lorber trailers and stills for the film.


“The Robber” comes with a slipcase cover.

“The Robber” is a loosely-based film on the actual events that took place in Austria back in the mid-to-late ’80s.

There are obvious differences from the film and the actual true-to-life story as the real Johann probably was involved in multiple murders and of course, the final events depicted in the film.    But if there is one thing to say about this film, director Benjamin Heisenberg’s goal was to create film without following Hollywood banality and providing a reason of  why this man has become a robber.

Is he stealing because his family is in financially in trouble, money for lifestyle reasons, stealing because he wanted to help the poor or someone in the family or is it one man’s way of creating excitement in his life?  There is typically a reason given of why one would risk their life and that would help the viewer understand why they commit these criminal acts.

For “The Robber”, one can psychoanalyze the situation and probably think that his robberies is his entertainment, his excitement, his version of instant pleasure.  He’s not a man that goes out and spends the money on whatever he wants.  He just robs banks, stashes the money and doesn’t indulge in it.  In fact, he’s probably a man that is fixated on the risk of being caught and being able to runaway from it.

And that is possibly the intention of Johann Rettenberg.  He is a man who has run away from things.  Possibly an altruistic individual.  His life, danger…he keeps on running, he keeps pushing himself to be in this top condition and surely enough, he beats marathon records but when there is no marathon, what does a man who enjoys running do?  While the obvious answer is train…train and train, perhaps he needs a little more excitement in his life and thus robbing banks and the danger associated with it, is what fuels him?

And just to read the story of the real life Johann, it’s hard to fathom how a wanted man was captured but escapes and is able to elude authorities.  It’s what makes “The Robber” have such a unique scene never seen in a movie, a man’s escape and he keeps running away from authorities, literally.  There is not much focused on the actual drama that surrounds this character, we just watch and see how long he can elude authorities and how.

As for the Blu-ray release, “The Robber” looks great on Blu-ray and the lossless soundtrack is quite adequate for this film, as it is front and center-channel driven for its dialogue and ambiance.  Unfortunately, there are no special features aside from trailers and stills, but I was hoping to hear an audio commentary track or see a featurette on the making of the film.

Implausible as the real-life story may seem, many of these events indeed happened. I felt that director Benjamin Heisenberg made the right decision to end it the way he did, rather than follow the go out with a bang storyline (which happened to the real-life Johann).

Overall, “The Robber” is an intriguing heist action film.  Granted, it’s not heavy in the drama department, nor did I find it ebullient.  The film will not give  you any answers of why Johann does what he does, but still, “The Robber” was exciting and different nonetheless.  The cinematography by Reihold Vorschneider and the planning for the various scenes were well done and I definitely was hooked.

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