To my surprise the Lance Armstrong Biopic ‘The Program’ has become available on Amazon Prime. I was fearing I would have to seek out on Blue Ray after missing it at the cinema.
This is the Hollywood interpretation of Armstrongs rise and fall through sport, fame, and health. The cast is pretty stellar for a sports film with Ben Foster playing Lance Armstrong, Lee Pace playing his agent Bill Stapleton, Chris O’Dowd as the Times journalist David Walsh who first recognised Armstrongs sudden suspicious soar in ability, Guillame Canet as team postal doctor and master dope instigator Michele Ferrari, and Dustin Hoffman as Bob Hamman chief executive of SCA the company responsible for paying Armstrongs multiple bonus’ for winning the tours.
Foster was pretty good at giving Armstrong both the Machiavellian, win at all costs inability to see his wrongs, and in contrast the hope that he could make things better with his efforts in Livestrong charity. The timeline of lies is played out well, with the points of slip in which he didn’t keep up the act eventually closing in on him. It showed how he bullied and coersed his teammates, family, friends, and even UCI officials to keep himself at the top. The rest of the performances were typically Hollywood with Ferraris part being played a little too ‘evil genius’ for my liking.
The locations were great with stunning filmography, making good use of how beautiful both Le Tour and France are. The cycling looked realistic and the peloton looked pro. It was also great to see so many either period bikes or replicas rolling together again.
I enjoyed the film a lot, and not just because my favourite activity got the red carpet treatment, but because it wasn’t scared to show the real lows that both happened to Lance, the cancer, and the ones he manufactured for himself, being shopped by all those around him. I know that sounds a little depressing but it makes for a good story. I did feel that there were underlying hints that they were trying to save Lances soul, with Livestrong, hospital visits with young cancer victims, and playing on his desire to work hard and win. I’m sorry Lance, but no one can do that! It was nice to see celebrities onboard but I think that’s representative of the level of severity in what occurred plus the fact that an American hero was reduced to dust, again it made for a great story. It’s just such a shame that it had to happen and, especially with the Russian Olympic ban, makes you think where else could this be happening?
In my opinion, not just a film for the cyclists. Worth a watch!