An Irish sports journalist becomes convinced that Lance Armstrong's performances during the Tour de France victories are fueled by banned substances. With this conviction, he starts hunting ... Read allAn Irish sports journalist becomes convinced that Lance Armstrong's performances during the Tour de France victories are fueled by banned substances. With this conviction, he starts hunting for evidence that will expose Armstrong.An Irish sports journalist becomes convinced that Lance Armstrong's performances during the Tour de France victories are fueled by banned substances. With this conviction, he starts hunting for evidence that will expose Armstrong.
Obsessed with winning the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong (Ben Foster) uses performance enhancing substances to gain the edge. Meanwhile, sports journalist David Walsh (Chris O'Dowd) convinced of the doping conspiracy starts to gather evidence to expose Armstrong. The Program, is an underwhelming retelling of the one of the biggest drug scandals in sports history. Admittedly the actor's performances are good, and the movie overall is shot well. However, the script and the story telling are to the quality of what you might expect from an average TV documentary re-enactment.
Considering the high profile nature of the scandal, I was surprised that The Program wasn't marketed more. I never saw the trailers in the cinemas and when I brought up that I was going to watch this movie in the weekend I was immediately asked by everyone "What's that?" After watching the film it's clear to me that even the studio lacked confidence in the final product.
Few as they may be, there are certainly some redeeming things about The Program. The lead actor Ben Foster gave a solid performance, at a certain point I didn't see him anymore and only saw Lance. Which probably is the biggest compliment I'll give to this movie. I also enjoyed seeing the whole doping operation, it was meticulous and systematic. I really got the sense of the lengths that Lance and his team went to achieve their goals. Although it is definitely disgraceful, I must admit I was rather impressed by how for so long they got away with it all. So I commend the filmmakers for pulling off that aspect of the story. As for the rest of the story, there's more to be desired.
You couldn't ask for better true story material for a sports drama. There was huge potential here, but all of it is lost because of the paint by the numbers approach to the film. Rather than concentrating on a singular character and see them transform over the course of the movie, The Program opts to also give significant spotlight to David Walsh and Floyd Landis (Jesse Plemons). This causes the movie to lose focus with each change. The structure of movie made it blatantly obvious that the director and the editor prioritised showing a checklist of major events in Lance's life rather than telling a coherent story. An example of this false priorities was the introduction of Lance's wife. The whole segment of them meeting lasts for about 45 seconds, we get a quick look at a wedding, and that's it, we never see her again for the rest of the movie. That small segment was just there to show Lance got married at one point. It felt completely unnecessary, instead I would love to have seen how this whole operation affected his relationships and friendships.
The Program, is a movie that no-one knows about and unfortunately will be a forgettable experience for the ones who do watch it. I think if I had caught this as a re-enacted documentary on TV, I'd be really impressed. However when it comes to biographically movies in cinemas it just doesn't hold up to the standard set by recent movies such as The Social Network or Selma for example.
- Nov 23, 2015