There are two opinions of Lance Armstrong. Some people would describe him as an inspirational cancer survivor who has saved lives and supported people through his LiveStrong charity. Whilst others would say he’s a manipulative and crazy liar who cheated and ruined the reputation of a great sport. The Program covers both points of view in this biopic that uncovers lies and the activities he undertook to dope and how he avoided getting caught for so many years.
Although this is a subject and a person that would have a great interest to many people and is a good story, I felt the movie lacked punch, lacked the spark that would make it a really great movie. The movie is described in so many places as a movie that shows David Walsh uncovering the truth, when really; the only thing you see David conjure up is a small part of the story in uncovering the truth. I am not sure what David’s involvement was in reality, but the reality is likely different to what you will actually see.
The Program felt very rushed. The movie opened to Lance Armstrong, played by Ben Foster, climbing up a hill on his bike, followed by Lance and David Walsh, played by Chris O'Dowd playing table football chatting about Lance’s introduction to the sport and how Lance hopes to win a couple of races. Gradually the movie picks up pace, but it doesn’t hold up at any point, it just keeps speeding faster and faster through each part of the story. I would have liked to see more of David Walsh’s involvement in how he finally uncovered the truth and the aftermath of the events. We never see that and if it was there, we sped through it so fast that I don’t recollect it.
The acting throughout is brilliant, Ben Foster really shows the determination of Lance to keep the secret under wraps, he shows how fixed he is on winning and we really see the thirst for success. Chris O’Dowd plays David Walsh very well also, we see the frustration when he cannot get concrete evidence for his claims on Lance and the fear from when people start turning against him. They both play their roles very well, similarly with Jesse Plemons, playing Floyd Landis.
Something that I have to note is that the camerawork was a bit dodgy at time; I had to swing my head side to side when the camera swings Lance’s face from one of the screen to the other. Some people might feel a bit motion sick from all of that.
The acting was great and the story was a great one to tell, but I think the pace of the movie really put me off and I believe the movie lost focus of what it was about. Was it supposed to be about Lance and how he cheated the system to dope while competing or was it about David Walsh’s uncovering of the cheating that was taking place? The movie started on one path and ended on another which was really off putting for me.