There once was this cyclist who did, at the time it seemed, things that did not seem possible. He went from a young man who many thought would be good, but not great at his sport to someone who epitomize it. Having won seven titles in a row and doing so after he beat cancer, this man was on top of the world, but then the truth came out. That truth was that he had been using performing enhancing drugs, if you haven’t figured out whom I am talking about that would be Lance Armstrong. It seems like yesterday that we were watching the fall of this man, but thanks to the way we treat our stories, that was so 2013.
Here is a little refresh on what happened. Armstrong (Ben Foster) was just another good cyclist, but he was someone who wanted to win in the worst way. After hearing that some cyclist might be getting some help in order to make them better, Armstrong seeks out a Doctor named Michele Ferrari (Guillaume Canet), who has the key to make Armstrong the cyclist he wants to be. The key of course is performing enhancing drugs, and boy do they work. Soon Armstrong has his whole team in on it, and an elaborate scheme to cover it all up. Not everyone believes Armstrong is who he portrays himself to be, and thanks to how Armstrong treats people, writer David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd) finds people who want to tell the truth pretty easily. The problem is that Armstrong is the sport, so he is able to make any rumblings that he cheated go away pretty easily. Eventually everything catches up to you, and it does for Armstrong when Floyd Landis (Jessie Plemons) is caught cheating and he starts to tell all about his time with Armstrong. After that everything falls apart for Lance, leaving his only recourse to admit the truth.
To not know this story you would have to be living under a rock, or be one of those people living off the grid. The Armstrong story is an interesting one because while he cheated to get everything he wanted, he did also raise a lot of money and awareness for the fight against Cancer.
The movie really just focuses on his rise to the top, and the time he was there, and of course his fall. We are introduced to the characters that play a big part in his story along the way. The cast is excellent, with Foster embodying Armstrong in everyway. Written by John Hodge (Trainspotting), from David Walsh’s book, the movie just sticks to the meat of Armstrong’s story, which are all you need to know. It’s fascinating to watch as the events unfold, even though you know the outcome. Director Stephen Fears (High Fidelity) incorporates actual footage from the races, so the film has a kind of documentary feel to it. If you are looking for a good summarization of this fall from grace, then this movie will serve you well, while if you are looking for something more through, watch “The Armstrong Lie” by Alex Gibney. “The Program” is a pretty face of a film, and though it is not perfect, it does a good enough job of telling one of the most compelling stories from the last ten years.