The Program

Lance Armstrong: hero or villain?

A liar and a cheat, that’s for sure.

And that’s what this movie is about: one man’s relentless, ruthless pursuit of the only thing that matters to him – winning. And it’s not just that he was willing to cheat to keep up with the others, no, you have to cheat the best to be the best. He didn’t just cheat, he hired a whole team of cheaters in order to boost his performance while cloakitheprogramng his dishonesty. And he flaunted his power and prestige (that he largely earned being “The Face of Cancer through his Livestrong foundation) to intimidate and coerce others into staying silent.

Ben Foster stars as Lance Armstrong, and it’s a good fit. He does the smarmy bravado well, with glimpses of vulnerability that humanize him. Jesse Plemmons (the low-rent Matt Damon) co-stars as his team-mate, and Chris O’Dowd, my Irish boyfriend, as the sports journalist who MTMzMTA1NDUyODAzMjEzMzIythinks he smells a rat.

The script is the problem. It has to race through more than a decade of doping, and it does so pretty frenetically, not really dwelling on much other than his downfall. The story doesn’t seem to know if it’s about Lance Armstrong’s power-hungry cheating or David Walsh’s (the journalist) determined reporting, or about generalized ambition and abuse of power in the sports world.

Lance Armstrong is not a nice guy. He lied, repeatedly, unapologetically. He cheated in pursuit of fame and money and all things deplorable. He also beat cancer and raised a lot of money for its research. But it’s likely the reason he got cancer in the first place was all his doping. But his doping and his subsequent winning led him to rejuvenate his sport, and imagesthe Tour de France, inspiring many. So who is this man? Don’t look to The Program for the answer. It has little in terms of insight – it’s mostly a scrapbook of Lance’s greatest hits and David’s best articles about them, and questioning them.

The only part of this movie I found interesting is when Dustin Hoffman briefly appears as an insurer. U.S. Postal sponsored Armstrong’s team and paid him out bonuses for each win, and an insurance company backed them up. Armstrong won a LOT of Tours de France, and they owed him a LOT of money…except what if he cheated, then he didn’t really win, did he? Armstrong is prepared to throw EVERYONE under the bus to keep his lie alive, but we all know how that ended up. The truth is, there is little in this movie that we don’t already know. And with scattered story-telling and shoddy characterization – well, what’s the point?

 

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21 thoughts on “The Program

  1. Tom

    Sounds like Alex Gibney’s docu The Armstrong Lie is the way to go. Maybe that’s more due to the fact it features the Bastard himself. Pity to hear this isn’t as good as it could be

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  2. tubularsock

    Tubularsock loved your review Jay. Straight up great! Tubularsock rides a lot of bike and Tubularsock’s drugs of choice are Wild Turkey, pot, white wine and saki. But Tubularsock doesn’t “drug” himself out there on the road …… when a bus is coming at you it’s difficult enough sober!

    Great review!

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  3. Birgit

    I think I would prefer the documentary as this man is just a shell and a true creep. Even if it was for his own ends, at least he brought cancer research up and raised money. He also showed the Tour De France as a true hard sport which is one I like to watch-not ever because of him

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  4. kmSalvatore

    Ahh too bad it’s not so good;(. I’d love to see maybe a documentary on his cheating life from an early age… The cheating bastard!!!! Probably lied His way though all of His life. Thanks, one more off the list. Hope your all healed.. Or at least having some relief?. Have a great week.

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    1. Jay Post author

      4 more weeks of the vacuum torture therapy. Getting there.
      Looks like he was cheating from way back – before it was popular, even! Nothing he accomplished was earned honestly.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  5. Cassandra

    Sounds like a miss. I was a huge TDF fan in the 90s and an Armstrong believer to the bitter end. I felt so betrayed by this man when it all came out. Don’t think I could watch a poorly done version of the details I already know so well.

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    1. Jay Post author

      You and a lot of people. I think the worst is that he acted so innocent, so outraged, touted himself as the “clean” athelete…the guiltier he was, the more vehement he was in pretending innocence.

      Liked by 1 person

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  6. John Charet

    Have not see the movie yet, but I will probably skip it. It is very sad to see how Lance Armstrong ruined himself and incited everyone who believed in him to go against him because of it. Anyway, keep up the great work as always 🙂

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  7. DotedOn

    It’s hard to understand why some people do some things… Do they really think they can get away with it for all their lives?
    I hope you are feeling as good as new 🙂

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  8. Pingback: The Program | joaomarques67

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