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  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is an unexpected honor to be the first reviewer of The Armstrong Lie.

    Yesterday, I went to the London Film Festival and saw The Armstrong Lie directed by Alex Gibney. When it comes to documentaries, a world- renowned film festival is the perfect venue. There's nothing quite like a roomful of film critics, cycling writers and enthusiasts being given the opportunity to ask questions directly to a film director who had unprecedented access to his subject.

    Alex Gibney is firmly established among the very elite of documentary filmmakers. He is responsible for Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God (2012), Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room (2005) and Catching Hell (2011) for ESPN's 30 for 30 series which are among some of my favorites of the genre. He also won an Academy Award for Taxi to the Dark Side (2007). Having already investigated scapegoating and bullying via a frightening episode in baseball's history when a fan interfered with a foul ball during Game 6 of the 2003 National League Championship Series at Wrigley Field, he was well prepared to deal with Lance Armstrong from deification, to dirty politics and the long purgatory faced by some of sport's fallen heroes.

    The Armstrong Lie, Mr. Gibney told us, was five years in the making. Lance Armstrong's return to competitive cycling in 2009 culminating with his first Tour de France in four years - after winning seven between 1999 and 2005 - was the original theme. The storyline begged for a Hollywood ending and it was hard not to root for it.

    Instead, we saw what needed to be done to rescue Alex Gibney's project once Lance Armstrong lost the power to intimidate whistle-blowers and trample journalists. His return from retirement suddenly looked more like that of Roger Clemens than Michael Jordan. This makes The Armstrong Lie a somewhat bipolar movie stretched between the myth we embraced and Lance Armstrong's unblinking manufacturing of the truth. It is also a vivid summary of the conflicting interests within cycling from the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) which appears to have more in common with the financial sector than clean sport, to its ongoing disputes with the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) and the US Anti-Doping Agency (USADA).

    What The Armstrong Lie does exceedingly well is show the 'Armstrong Cover-up'. To anyone who has read about systematic doping within cycling, it is about much more than a two-faced one-time ambassador-at- large of the sport. Johan Bruyneel - a former Director of the US Postal Service team and until recently, of the RadioShack team - does not stand to gain from the added exposure this film gives him when for example he is shown attempting to influence a key race result. There is nothing in the Armstrong Lie that will be new to anyone who has followed the sport with passion. Still it remains an important film and I am thankful it was completed. One day, we may come to view it as an essential document of one of cycling's darkest eras.

    It is also enlightening to contrast Lance Armstrong's interview by Oprah Winfrey with new material to decide for ourselves on the depth of duplicity involved, the predicament faced by anyone whose talent happens to be riding a bike for 3 weeks over total distances exceeding 3,000 kilometers, and whether it is an easy decision to fight an entire peer group and lose one's income.

    The Armstrong Lie emphatically answers 'Why?' when it comes to Lance Armstrong. How someone who almost died from cancer could renew with a dangerous high-stakes game of chemicals remains a mystery. Oprah Winfrey did not directly ask Lance Armstrong that question. Neither does Alex Gibney. Why a number of exceptional athletes appear unconcerned with their own mortality is left for us to ponder on. The speculation that doping could have caused Lance Armstrong's cancer in the first place is not discussed. The Armstrong Lie follows the money. Lots of it.

    A member of the audience asked Alex Gibney if Lance Armstrong had seen the movie and if so, what he thought of it. We were told that he does not like the title.
  • When everyone cheats, it becomes a different contest. The powerful friends, money (125 million plus), risk and pain tolerance, influential scientists, compelling story, performance enhancing drugs, viciousness, ambition to win at all costs, willingness to bully others, . . . Armstrong has all this and more. The documentary is a powerful and gripping indictment not just of Armstrong and cycling, but of sports and humanity in general. Armstrong's doping is bad, but his abuse of power is worse. The film shows how willing people are to be fooled, or to trample on others. Despite its two-hour length, the film held my interest throughout. There are so many parallels in a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne, wherein he writes, "There is something truer and more real, than what we can see with the eyes, and touch with the finger." So too with Armstrong, cycling, sports, and all of us. This brilliant documentary helps bring such truths to the surface.
  • To judge something in terms of how it's executed is all well and good but in a documentary such as this the message takes precedence. It seeks the truth and all the arguments aren't displayed for that to emerge. If it it simply allowed the viewer to make up his own mind then that would be o.k but the film displays a bias thereby becoming a vehicle and a misleading one at that.

    The fact that doping was prevalent in cycling and still plays a large factor is obvious. If Armstrong was racing on a level playing field of dopers then that to me would also have been acceptable. However this was far from the case.

    Non of Lance's team mates were caught doping whilst they were in his team. Meanwhile all his major competitors were absent from the start line at various points in time due to suspensions and had some key teammates missing from every tour for the same reason. Throughout all the disruptions, devastation, controversy and even a suicide Armstrong was always there with a full strength squad.

    The film touches on the importance of team mates and how on all of his wins Armstrong rode alone for only minutes at a time, but fails to take the next step and look at how the various disqualifications imposed on all other teams (apart from his own during his winning years) affected his competitors. Had the film done this Armstrong would never have agreed to be in it because he's still pushing the lie that he won those seven Tours fair and square once we accept as fact that they were all doping.

    The UCI had invested in him and were being invested in by a lot of the same sponsors, they allowed many cyclists to burn whilst protecting this man. The film doesn't touch on those aspects and the film maker remains a fan.

    I gave the film five stars because it is well shot and well put together. I am a cycling fan and it's view of the race was a pleasure to watch. There is stock footage obviously but the film does follow Armstrong and films the 2009 race independently. The film gives an insight into what it takes to be a professional rider and rider's relationships with one another and their team officials.

    Some of the people interviewed I've never seen interviewed i.e doctor Ferrari, which added another point of interest for me.

    The 2009 and other pre-'outed' interviews were interesting, giving an insight into Armstrong's mentality at the time and although there is marked contrast to his post-confessional ones it's by no means a transformation and a true repentance. His approach to people seems outwardly very different now, but his attitude towards his legacy and the morality of his actions remain to all intents and purposes unchanged. The exclusions of Paul Kimmage and Greg Lemond from the documentary also indicate this.

    I'd say watch the film but bear the other stuff in mind too.
  • THE ARMSTRONG LIE is a fascinating documentary. Shot over a period of four years, it purports to investigate the oft-repeated claim that cyclist Lance Armstrong was a cheat, and that every single one of his Tour de France wins were achieved by taking drugs. Alex Gibney's narrative begins as a defense of Armstrong's behavior, but as different elements of the truth emerge, so the filmmaker has to keep readjusting his position. Gibney is obviously a fan of Armstrong (as many people still are), but as the seamy details of what the cyclist did in order to win his races gradually emerge, so the filmmaker gradually understands how wrong-headed he has been give his unquestioning support. Armstrong emerges as a thoroughly unsavory character, pathologically unwilling to acknowledge the truth about himself, and always looking to manipulate the media so that he emerges in a positive light. Even his so-called 'confessional' interview with Oprah looks like a deliberate attempt to rescue his reputation. As the narrative unfolds, so Gibney gradually comes to understand the truth about his subject, and realizes to his cost that much of the film has unwittingly helped to obfuscate that truth, portraying Armstrong instead as a man more sinned against than sinning. It is only right at the end that Gibney admits the truth of Armstrong's motives, and how Armstrong himself has deliberately duped the filmmaker. As a result THE ARMSTRONG LIE is a film that is more about media manipulation than anything else, revealing just how persuasive - and dangerous - a person Armstrong actually is. There's no guarantee that he might not manage to clear his reputation in the future, despite what he has done.
  • This documentary in some way attempts to apologize for the sordid life of lies the Lance Armstrong used to ruin a one time popular sport.

    There is little detail in this mockumentry that shows the horrible person, megalomaniac, narcissist and criminal that Armstrong was-and still is. Anyone who tries to blame his criminal actions on 'competitiveness' is sorely misinformed.

    The only difference between Armstrong and Bernie Madoff is the fact that Bernie took it like a man and put himself in prison for what he did to so many people-who, unfortunately,were just as greedy as he was.

    Armstrong compiled a 120 million dollar fortune based on lies to everyone and cheated so many out of greed-and nothing else but pure greed. While this video ends at a point that the real story has just began-I hope that it shows people just what a monster greed really is.

    The video at times seems to go out of it's way to portray Armstrong as a patriot, cancer survivor and boy next door type that got 'caught up' in the sport. Nothing is further from the truth. His zest for riches continues, even today, as he is still blaming everyone for his downfall.

    As far as presentation the video is quite good and, without a doubt, it is an interesting story of a heathen bent on destroying any one who might revel his lies-all in the name of the mighty dollar.

    Threading peoples lives daily, blackmail, corruption and the worst of all what he did to America overall. The flag is stained with his lies forever and how he stays out of prison I will never understand.

    An interesting video that I think most can enjoy, if for nothing else, exposing other greedy criminals like Armstrong-whose ego was so inflated-that he considered himself a solitary la cosa nostra.

    Today, when so many sports stars are good people, he continues to the blame game.

    Again, a fine interesting video.
  • In 2009 Alex Gibney set out to make a documentary about Lance Armstrong's return to the racing circuit. Armstrong had won the Tour De France seven times and had beaten cancer. He was a winner in every respect until finally the allegations that had dogged him for years, that he had used performance enhancing drugs, caught up with him and on Oprah Winfrey's television show he finally admitted to cheating and Gibney's film, originally designed to celebrate Armstrong, became "The Armstrong Lie", as Gibney searched for reasons for his behaviour. Could it be that he simply had to become a winner whatever the cost? Gibney felt that Armstrong owed him since Armstrong had lied to him in 2009 when Gibney set out to celebrate Armstrong's career, so he continued with his film forcing Armstrong to confront his duplicitous past, (though even now Armstrong is holding some things back), and the result is this extraordinary film. "The Armstrong Lie" is the kind of film that pays tribute, not just to its subject, (though, perhaps, tribute isn't quite the right word in this case), but to the genre itself, (it's as exciting as any fictional thriller). Gibney already has an Oscar under his belt; in a just world he would have added another for this brilliant movie.
  • Many were shocked when Lance Armstrong (finally) admitted to his use of steroids, which assisted in his 7 Tour Du France wins. Stripped of his titles, dumped by his multi-million dollar sponsorships, banned from all World Anti-Doping Agency governed sports, and literally taken out of the record books for all 7 years he won, most expected him to experience a deep shame and regret over his actions. Most of us, upon revealing our deepest secrets, and the lies that we chose to live, might respond in that way, but Lance Armstrong is a different kind of person, and perhaps doesn't function in the same capacity.

    Oscar winning documentary film maker Alex Gibney tackles another societal dysfunction, in his attempt to tell the story of why one of sporting world's most famous names, would come out to admit his fraud to the world. It's an absolutely spellbinding story, and doesn't tip-toe around the subject. Rather, it opens up at his most publicly shameful moments, when he told Oprah Winfrey on national television (in yes / no fashion) that he had been cheating the whole time he was winning one of the most grueling competitions in the world. But there is a great deal more to this story, and Gibney delves into some of the bigger problems surrounding the sport, his issues with bullying team mates, the nature of cheating, and most importantly: Why Armstrong acts the way he does.

    The American Psychiatric Association defines the narcissistic personality as:

    "In which a person is excessively preoccupied with personal adequacy, power, prestige and/or vanity, mentally unable to see the destructive damage they are causing to themselves and often others."

    Whenever I think of this personality, a few names come to mind (Donald Trump, and Kanye West are just a few), but I think Lance Armstrong fits this description well. I don't particularly think that he, and others who share these traits, are necessarily terrible people, but it does make them capable of some truly awful actions. It's a remarkable study into this type of personality. Armstrong admits to wrong-doings, but never feels remorse for his actions. It's remarkable how he treats his own teammates throughout his career, and forces us to see him as a very driven man, yet at the same time, one capable of very criminal action.

    At this time, in 2016, Armstrong faces a 100 million dollar lawsuit brought forth by the federal government for defrauding the U.S. Postal service (the main sponsor during his tours). It's expected to ruin him financially, but many don't expect a decision requiring a full penalty. Perhaps his actions do have consequences, but he's apt not to let that bother him. That being said, Alex Gibney narrates and describes the situation facing him and sport of cycling rather well. I would recommend this documentary to anyone who was interested in Armstrong as a competitor, but also to really let the depth of his actions sink in with the viewer.

    One of Gibney's best, and more personal documentaries.

  • Warning: Spoilers
    This documentary film isn't going to give you the answers to the questions we all have. Why did he come back in 2009? Was he really riding clean in 2009? How did he manage to hide the truth for so long? I went into this film hoping for answers to some of these questions, I didn't get them, but what I did get was a riveting documentary film. By the end of this film you'll have more unanswered questions than you went in with.

    The first half of this film is just information anyone following this story already knew. Although the interviews with Dr. Ferrari are particularly interesting. It's the second half of this film that makes it a great art documentary. The footage taken during Lance's comeback in 2009, in conjunction with the interviews following the doping revelations make for discomforting viewing. You can tell even in the post-revelation interviews that he is still manipulating, still telling half-truths. I came away with the impression he's spent so long lying he doesn't know the truth himself. There is certainly a lot more to this story than has been told.

    I left the cinema with this uncomfortable feeling in my gut. A feeling that there are no great sporting heroes, just people who haven't been caught yet, perhaps that feeling in my gut is disillusionment.
  • The Armstrong Lie is a documentary that takes a deep look at one of the most horrendous best kept lies of the sports history, the rise and fall of Lance Armstrong after being disgracefully accused for doping. He was once known as the greatest cyclist the world has ever seeing who won 7 Tour De France titles from 1999-2005 after battling and recovering from cancer.

    After winning 7 titles and being away for 4 years in retirement Armstrong makes a surprise come back in 2009 with hopes of winning another title and raising funds for cancer patients. The director of this documentary Alex Gibney was hired to make a documentary of the comeback of Armstrong and he has being covering Armstrong's sports history for quite some time. But as the doping scandal came to light the original project was never finished. But in 2013 Gibney decided that he needs a proper ending to his documentary and re-opened it after Armstrong makes a confession on Oprah Winfrey show.

    This documentary is quite easy and interesting to follow. For someone with even a mild knowledge about professional cycling and Armstrong it can be digested without much effort. While having a deep look at Armstrong's sporting career and the doping dilemma the documentary effectively provides important background information about the sport itself that fuels the main plot. And it manages to tell the story from several perspectives than being biased in to one point of view, the intention being the viewer to have their own conclusion of what had really happened. There ample amount of historical footage of practice runs, races, press conferences, court trials and other video that builds a strong case relating to each other. Obviously for being someone like Armstrong most of his well-known part of his entire life is on film somewhere. The challenge which the director goes through is to filter the most relevant and create a flow that doesn't over hype or dull to the viewer. In my opinion the job was well done.

    The Armstrong Lie is a powerful piece of documentary film making. And it would give you new perspective of what really went on with Lance Armstrong. Maybe you have followed his case eagerly while it was hot but now since things have gone a bit cold a relook would be ideal. Just as Armstrong phrase many times it felt OK at the time.
  • Review: After watching the Program recently, I thought I should watch the real story about Lance Armstrong, because I couldn't believe that a man could be so vindictive and manipulating to so many people, and now that I've watched this in depth documentary, he was worse than I first expected. The fact that he nearly got away with taking drugs during his 7 championship races, sickens my stomach and I personally think that he should be stripped of all of his personal earnings, which he has made from his deception and bare-faced lies. He ruined so many people's life's, including his fellow racers and he damaged there reputations by claiming that they were lying about his drug taking. Because of the power that he gained during his cycling career, he had the backing of some very important people, who helped him through his successful career but when the truth came out about his filthy habits, he tarnished there reputations and made loads of money after coming clean. His excuses for taking the enhanced performing drugs, were that it was the norm at that time and there wasn't any tests that could track the drugs, and the only reason why he got caught, even though there was loads of investigations, was because he returned to cycling after retiring with his 7 consistent wins. Anyway, I found the documentary very entertaining and well put together by the director and the various interviews with the people who surrounded Lance Armstrong at that time, proved that he really wasn't a nice person. The sad thing is, he actually could have won a few of the championships without the drugs! Enjoyable!

    Round-Up: This documentary was directed by Alex Gibney, 62, whose known for his documentaries and his in depth look into debatable matters. He won an Oscar for Taxi To The Dark Side in 2008 and he was nominated for an Oscar in 2006 for Efron: The Smartest Guys In The Room. He's directed documentaries about WikiLeaks, James Brown, musical artist Fela Kuti, Steve Jobs, Frank Sinatra and various political matters. Judging by this film, he's not one to hold back information and he does get down to the nitty gritty when it comes to delicate situations, so I'm looking forward to watching some more of his projects.

    Budget: N/A Worldwide Gross: $500,000

    I recommend this movie to people who are into their sport/documentaries about Lance Armstrong's rise and fall from grace. 7/10
  • I always admire the commitment of a documentarian. It feels destined for Alex Gibney to have been following Lance Armstrong just before the turn of his downfall as all his documentaries need a tinge of controversy before they're just right. A comeback film wouldn't have been as interesting as this. Perhaps it's morbid curiosity of why I'm looking into Lance Armstrong more now that the truth has broken out than when he was heroic cyclist who wasn't held back by a little cancer. What brings a man to do something like this? What was the point? The Armstrong Lie has intimate access to the disgraced icon and it's undeniable that he's compelling to watch, if sometimes repulsive. Above all, it reveals the nature of our celebrity worship culture and the power it feeds and the lives it destroys.

    The documentary covers all aspects of the sport of cycling. It's quite infectious with its cinematic style and I regret watching this the day that the Tour de France was close to me but I missed it. The film gives scattered information about the basics but there's great insight into how the cheating works. The cutting makes the human drama thrilling as people try to beat Armstrong at his game. The film doesn't necessarily take a side, but he still makes you sick to your stomach when he lies through his teeth to the camera. I couldn't help but keep thinking that Ben Foster will be perfect for Stephen Frears' upcoming film. We still haven't got all the facts, especially about Armstrong's peers, and there's quite a bit about media manipulation here too which the film is a part of, but the story of a contemporary legend falling touches an aching nerve.

  • This movie - and the situation it chronicles - forces us to consider

    to what extent we can expect an even playing field - literally - when we watch sports. The athletes say, "Every one else was doing it."

    When fans watch NASCAR races, I hope they understand that it's a team sport. The people who built the car, the people who maintain it, the guys who change the tires, the spotters and others contribute as much or more to the win as does the driver. However, when we see an individual athlete - biker, runner, skier, etc. - compete, do we see that the "best man" wins or the performer with the best doctor, the best chemist and research department and the cleverest lawyer to get around the system, as one of the interviewees in this movie suggests.

    Should we accept that performance enhancements are now a part of sports, athletes and their supporters will continue to find ways to counter efforts to limit them and accept that? The destructive qualities of steroids - including their potential for violent behavior and the process Armstrong admitted using raise doubt. The drug Amstrong took and the use of blood transfusions to short-cut the body's process for communicating and responding to muscle fatigue surely must be physically destructive. However, I have long had questions about the long-term effects of professional football tackles, questions now being answered, at least in terms of head injuries. Players and fans continue to accept this.

    This movie may be more interesting to people who are not cycling fans but is a good exploration of a range of observers and participants.
  • When a documentary draws a conclusion, it can force a reviewer to take a side, which in my case it did. The filmmaker seemed determined to right some perceived wrong, by "proving" Lance Armstrong was a bad person. That slant sullies the film.

    Like many athletes during a time that people will likely refer to some day as the "enhancement period" one MUST take into consideration that the MAJORITY of athletes broke these rules. It was the norm, at that time. Armstrong may have cheated and he may have pressured others to do the same, but during the decade when this was commonplace, he was the best man at the task.

    The film feels vindictive and biased, and as such it is a poor documentary. Period.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Why did I give this documentary such a low mark ? Do see this film, which is an overdue expose upon a very deserving and dislikeable, bullying arrogant thief, Lance Armstrong.

    The subject matter is intensely interesting.

    The reality of Armstrong's perfidious behaviour, particularly against those who were "against" him (basically anyone who didn't worship him)and his disgraceful misuse of the courts, is compelling viewing.

    The enormity of the lie and the scam Armstrong was running still does not even appear to have dawned on Armstrong himself.

    He appears arrogant and smug, and not the slightest infinitesimally tiny portion of true remorse is visible.

    HOWEVER: At just over two hours, the film shows a lack of editing, in several areas.

    Many segments are too long, and several appear to ultimately have no point.

    I found myself losing interest on numerous occasions, and even though the schadenfreude of watching the train wreck this despicable liar caused himself was an excellent subject; this will turn many non Tour De France fans off, attention wise.

    There are long segments in Italian and French (integral members of the scam, officials etc) which the viewer will wait in vain for interpretations, sub-titles, or an English dub-over. If no explanation of the language, and therefore the subject matter, is included, then many of these sequences could have been deleted, giving the watcher a better chance at applying attention and keeping interest.

    By far, though, the film's disturbing failure is the sound, and there is no excuse for such a cruddy effort with today's technological wizardry.

    There are several questions from the film-maker which are completely inaudible, even at maximum sound level. If you are anything like me, you will be very frustrated at the dropped voice, mumble-speak that passes for dialogue - you will constantly be muttering "what ? What did he say ?" and at the steep prices many cinemas charge, filmgoers deserve to hear what's being said.

    ABOVE ALL ELSE, the music is too bloody loud, and will often blast the viewer after straining to hear a few crucial words, to then having "background" music at deafening levels while narrating riding scenes, which are often too long.

    Did the maker not look at the post-production tape ? Did he have the sound at astronomical levels in editing ? Was there any sound editing ? Could he not afford subtitles ? Was the film rushed to cash in on a "be first" tell all ?

    We could stand another documentary on how this film so irritates the intended audience....
  • Warning: Spoilers
    It is really mind boggling to me sometimes that a documentary film maker can take 4 years without releasing the film, and that those extra few years will change the entire story. This type of thing has been happening more, and more, and I am referring to the act of capturing the facts on film long before we even know the questions. "The Gibney version" of this movie is the image of an angry man who has been lied to, and has wasted so much time following a world class lair around the world, but who is strong enough to follow the truth, and pull as few punches as he throws. This is a good Enjoyable documentary, a great feeling of watching the ever present foreshadowing. You know already, but there is still doubt, and yet there isn't is the message in a nutshell. I recommend this one to Documentary fans, it has a real strong hand at the wheel, I did not actually realize what I was watching until it had started, and I was pulled in quickly.
  • Painful insight into the sad fall from grace of one Lance Armstrong from superhero to human. For cyclists and anyone who wants to see just how far people will go to win at any cost.

    Never before seen interviews with Armstrong's former teammates, managers, doctors and foes. How fame and fortune took an obscure athlete, an obscure sport into a cultural icon and symbol of hope for millions around the world.

    I was a huge Lance fan and was in Paris with him when he won his 7th Tour. I was one of the last to finally believe that he cheated. His titles stripped and his sponsors and supporters have deserted him. A sad finish to one of the greatest stories ever told.
  • Alex Gibney is a prolific and well-respected documentary film-maker; I've previously seen his piece on paedophile priests, MEA CULPA, which made for harrowing viewing. THE ARMSTRONG LIE is his version of the Lance Armstrong story with an engaging hook: Gibney started filming long before the doping scandal hit, so he's able to chart the rise and fall of a hero every step of the way.

    This is a quietly gripping documentary that never outstays its welcome despite a lengthy running time. Despite the fact I have zero interest in cycling (in fact, I hate cyclists with a passion), I was thoroughly engrossed in the psychology behind the tale, as well as the 'devil may care' attitude of the participants.

    Armstrong himself comes across as a complex beast, a man who it's easy to both like and hate at the same time, as weird as that sounds. But it's Gibney who comes out of this the strongest, having made a documentary that resolutely refuses to take sides, instead presenting a full version of the story and allowing viewers to make up their own minds. It's a winner.
  • For many, Lance Armstrong was a hero. A cancer survivor who pushed the boundaries and limitations of the human psyche. Winning seven Tour De France titles, garnering sponsorships and obtaining the power of celebrity status. He was truly a force to reckon with. Alas it was all too good to be true, and this documentary rapidly shifted from a inspirational biopic to a captivating investigation. The doping scandal during his comeback tour blew up faster than a downhill race. For years he maintained a lie that was bigger than the sport itself. Much like director Gibney, fans were let down. Not only was Armstrong a disgrace to the world of cycling, but he cheated everyone. This documentary is an insightful investigation into how Armstrong consumed performance enhancing drugs and got away with it. The mixture of the scientific reasoning behind blood transfusions and an array of fulfilling interviews provide a construct into what is a smartly written narrative. It allows you to sympathise with Armstrong in terms of his motives for sport domination, but also denounce him as, not just a sportsman, but a person. His vicious behaviour to constantly defend this lie showcased him as an individual you would not want to go up against. It's all about power. There were times though that the tone was inconsistent, particularly during his 2009 comeback. Mostly because the filming took place then, but it deviates from the purpose of this documentary. We want to know why he did it! And unfortunately, despite some personal interviews with him, it's not at the forefront. The absence of presenting the aftermath of his confession was also missed. Including this would've highlighted just how important Armstrong was to people (particularly cancer patients), and would substantiate the outcry that was to follow. Still, in terms of portraying his past events and how he maintained his lie, this was a successful documentary. Consistently captivating and moved faster than a cyclist pedalling for the title. I just wish it delved deeper into why he did it.
  • Lance Armstrong finally comes clean about his drug use after years of denial to the public. He was an American hero and cycling icon who defeated cancer once. In this candid and honest documentary, Alex Gibney doesn't come with kid gloves to a man who has lied and deceived him and many others. There were other cyclists who paid the price for doping but not Armstrong. When he finally comes clean, he tries again the for the next Tour De France and proves that he can compete without the drugs in his system. But that's too little too late. The damage has been done to his image and others as well. There are times when you're sympathetic to Lance Armstrong and sometimes not. He is complex human being. He still is worth millions of dollars but he's banned from cycling world events. He has become a pariah in the sport that he made famous.
  • JohnnyLee122 March 2018
    Worth watching but doco-maker too close to Armstrong. Watching the lying made me sick in the stomach.
  • supatube12 March 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    Nice insight into a controversial sport star that's filled with arrogance and a false sense of self worth. Breaking the film down component by component it would read as: a main character that is actually a social noob, athletes 'cheat', people still don't want to admit that athletes are fake, and money pours in without doubt until PR starts looking shady.

    The saddest part of the documentary is the spectators (even the director himself's) praise of a man while, firstly, he is faking his superiority in cycling and second, he is just a cyclist and maybe shouldn't be praised as such a hero. Sometimes the hype around Lance Armstrong was as if he cured cancer. Therefore his lie was such a scandal, not because doping is such a big deal in the world away from competitive sports but because the people wanted to believe he was a super human and they believed their own disillusionment until it shattered like fragile glass.

    South Africa is home to a sports hero that shattered the hope of many when murder charges were brought against him. I don't think doping is the worst thing a sportsman could do. So Armstongs lie was overshadowed by Pistorius' violence in the eyes of many but that does not mean that Lance is not a less than impressive human being. Interestingly enough it was not the cheating that gives him this label but his malicious nature that goes above and beyond the world of cycling.

    Putting the 'cheating' aside, the documentary managed to showcase Lance in the most alarming way; a man unrepentant of the people he hurt to conceal his lie. An arrogant man that proceeded to relentlessly debase people, ruining their credibility all to protect his secret of inadequacy.

    The film itself began as a puff piece about the hero that is Lance Armstrong. By the time that original idea hit the cutting room the Armstrong story had taken a turn - which was not surprising with all the allegations over the years - and needed to find a new foundation.

    The largest missed opportunity was the director himself. As a fan, a man who started shooting the cyclist before the drama, why did he not then turn the camera on himself? A scandal is only as big as the amount of people that believed the lie. So Alex Gibney totally believed the lie. Why not address the other party in the Armstong scandal, the people? Maybe because the person lied to always wants to blame the liar for their own gullibility? Yes, the lie is horrid but many people believed the doping allegations, are these 'nonbelievers/haters' hurt by the truth? Probably not.

    So by the end the documentary focuses on Armstrong's downfall and his own personal inabilities to be a decent human being and totally forgoes everything that makes the 'cheating' an option - to be the best, to be a star, to be rich and a hero, to live the American dream, which can't happen if nobody pays attention.

    It's an interesting viewing, doesn't touch on real issues regarding the drive to be a sports hero, showcases a pretty shameful human being but it was topical at the time of release. I wouldn't rank it up there as some of Gibney's past work nor would i put it next to a great sport biography like "Senna".
  • Warning: Spoilers
    . . . since the Oscar-winning director of TAXI TO THE DARK SIDE obviously cowers before Lance Armstrong and the Texas Mafia "Code of Omuerta" far more than he feared the U.S. military when he was making his earlier flick. Here's some of the questions Gibney is afraid to ask in THE ARMSTRONG LIE. Though he shows a fawning Barbara Walters saying "You go, boy" while encouraging Lance to destroy the lives of any truth tellers on her show THE VIEW, Gibney doesn't ask why this thoughtless TV maven isn't totally silenced immediately. Though he shows how Armstrong had employees threaten truth tellers in phone answering machine messages with murder-by-baseball-bat (while wishing that those on the side of justice also suffer cancer first), Gibney doesn't ask Armstrong if he signed a formal contract with Satan, or just has an "understanding" with Big Red. (Okay, that might be unfair, because maybe none of Armstrong's Fundamentalist backers actually BELIEVE a word of their professed theology.) Though Gibney clearly shows Armstrong admitted to testosterone, EPO, human growth hormone, and blood transfusion doping in the mid-1990s BEFORE Lance got cancer (or won any important bike races), he never asks Armstrong what the chances are that ingesting this devil's brew CAUSED his cancer in the first place! Many people who do not formally believe in Satan have faith in karma ("what goes around comes around"), but Gibney swallows the canard that Armstrong's Live Wrong Foundation IS doing ACTUAL GOOD on BLIND FAITH, never asking to see the gold standard of science: a "double-blind study" showing that a matched set of cancer patients, including half with Live Wrong contact, actually resulted in BETTER outcomes for the Live Wrong people (common sense and karma may suggest otherwise). Further, Gibney doesn't bother to ask whether Ben Franklin's 200-year-old U.S. Postal Service has been fatally wounded by the fortune lost when its Sponsoree, Armstrong, "went Postal." Finally, Gibney views Armstrong here in a vacuum, never asking him about Texas culture and how he likes his place on America's newest monument, Mount Liemore, right between LBJ (of Kennedy Assassination Cover-up fame) and the Bushes (the Elder's CIA "October Surprise" with the Iran Hostages brought Reagan to power, and the Younger is still fingered by most Americans polled for orchestrating a 9-11 cover-up). Is it a "coincidence" that all four of these Hall of Shamers are Texans? Sorry, Alex, as Jack Nicholson once said, "You just can't handle the truth!" Fortunately, as William Shakespeare wrote earlier, "The Truth will out."
  • Focused documentary on cyclist Lance Armstrong and the substance use denial. Scant in the way of in-depth biography - marriages, kids, friends, nada. Couple of stills of him with his single mom. When he arrived on the cycling scene, doping was prevalent. Indeed, cycling in general suffers a long, sorry history of cheats and frauds. Nowadays, the money incentives are staggering. Few athletes - of any sport - remotely resemble normal humans. All professional sports seem to be as real as wrestling. I never liked Armstrong, though I empathized with his situation. Had he not joined all other contestants in steroids and blood tweaking, Lance would have been no one, another Damien Nazon.
  • This is an interesting documentary and well worth watching. I knew absolutely nothing about the world of cycling--nothing--and very little about Armstrong other than as a celebrity and household name. I had heard about the scandal attached to him over the years, but didn't pay much attention. This documentary was thoroughly informative, but I must agree with reviewers who say the director could have gone for the jugular at some point, but didn't. At the end of the documentary, the Oprah interview excepted, Lance is still rationalizing his behavior, and it almost seems as if he can't believe those 7 years will stand without a Tour De France winner.. . as if he inevitably MUST be re-instated at some point in the future because he "still won" . . . regardless of the how, why, and the final outcome. A fascinating inquiry into the cult of the ego, and our willingness to believe.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    First and foremost, I don't condone anything Lance Armstrong did. That being said, from a summarized look, we all live lives that are constructed for us. Some are mothers, others are painters, others are this or that. So with someone in high stakes sports at the most difficult and professional level, it's tough to judge anyone unless one's walked a day in their shoes/in their life.

    It can be understood that Armstrong had everything at stake, everything to lose on this lie, therefore it can be understood why he kept it going. And if any one of us were put in that situation where the stakes were just as high, who knows what we would do. It's easy to judge, but it's not easy to live a life where the stakes are so extreme.

    With that said, I never caught on to the whole Armstrong Phenomena, but if I was to learn one of my heroes such as Joel O'Steen was a liar, I would be crushed. So I dislike what Armstrong did extremely not for the lie itself or for what he felt he had to do, but for how the lie connected with so many people and how it hurt so many people. For that and that alone I dislike Armstrong very much.

    Because even though he did have cancer, he used it in connection with his one big lie to inspire hope, love, money, friendships, and infinite possibilities that anything can be beaten or achieved. His foundations raised so much money for a good cause, that it helped many children and adults fight their battles.

    The money his organization raised did so much good. We should be thankful that the organization saved a lot of lives with the money it raised. But the Armstrong lie shattered a lot of lives with people losing their inspiration and hope, and hating Armstrong. It also wasn't right how Armstrong defamed a lot of people to keep the lie going.

    It's really about the children though, where Armstrong is in the scenes with the kids with cancer, and with their parents. I can just imagine if those kids were still alive and how those parents must have felt that this man, Lance Armstrong, had the audacity to lead these parents and children on with this lie. Because the hope wasn't so much the cancer, it was that he was beating the odds with it with his cycling. And the cycling was the lie, and everything else was connected to that lie and went down the drain with that lie.

    Lance Armstrong understood what was at stake and he understood what would happen if he was caught and I respect at least the fact that he was completely honest with his truth about it finally, showing no remorse because showing any emotion would have been in vain anyway. However, it shows what a cold and in some way heartless human being Armstrong is in not breaking down and feeling bad for what he did. It's human to feel bad for living a lie. It's human to feel stress that what you're doing if you are caught hurt yourself and a lot people.

    But it seems Armstrong showed no remorse at all. He was living the incarnate of a slippery slope, of walking the line, the tightrope, in the end everything went down with his lie because it was all connected to it, from the cancer, to the hope he inspired, to the money, to the everything, that one lie became the lie to everything.

    At least Armstrong understood the fact that it's fair that he's getting what he deserves now. Maybe he's not ultimately an awful person, but he got caught in a lie that made him an awful person. I almost wish he would have never gotten caught for the good that his Cancer Organization did. Such a shame all around. Truly is. Shame on Lance for how he hurt and destroyed so many people.
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