The Program (2015) Review

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Lance Armstrong was one of the most popular and famous sport stars in the world. Coming from beating cancer and being unstoppable on the bike, but an Irish sports journalist David Walsh isn’t convinced that the amazing performances are done without cheating.

Now this is certainly a very difficult film to watch considering we all knew of Lance Armstrong as an amazing cyclist and creating the Livestrong brand with Nike in order to raise a lot of money for Cancer research. Especially with the wristbands and it had to be the first campaign to really push forward with those. All of that made it even worse when he eventually admit that he had cheated using blood doping to help recovery and produce higher levels of performance.

This is therefore a very different type of sports film than those we are used to seeing, we are used to the hero who really struggles to begin with and then makes a change in the end. From the start we know that is not going to be a normal type of sports film with a hero, as in this one the hero is a big cheat. It does make you wonder though how no-one else was really going after Armstrong when his times were so much quicker than they had ever been following his battle with cancer, surely that looked strange in itself? Although we do also see how he was cheating the system when he was drug tested, a lot of times I must add. So while he had never tested positive that was due to covering everything up. I don’t understand though how someone who knows they are cheating can then celebrate when winning a race, how can an athlete be happy with that?

The acting in the film was good enough and Ben Foster handled himself well in the role of Armstrong. I was equally as impressed with Chris O’Dowd who we know more for his comedy roles so it was nice to see what he could do in a more serious film, and he did not disappoint.

As I said earlier it is difficult to watch at times as cheating and sport really is the worst thing. But I still think it is a pretty important film as well, to show the lengths someone will go to. The lengths they will go to “win” as wrong is it is. We get to see what supposedly happened behind the scenes to ensure Armstrong kept winning as part of a “program” which is also claimed that many of the other riders were also on it! That therefore makes it so difficult to then give the riders credit who actually had tried to maximum capacity and weren’t actually cheating to be able to finish harder and faster than those not injecting themselves with something.

Plenty of thinking points and information given from the start to finish of the film also claimed that the whole cancer thing protected him for longer than it should which again is all so wrong. Such a shame we weren’t actually watching a film about a man who had trained so hard to get to the top of his sport with natural methods and plenty of harder work. Although I am not saying that he did not work hard early on in his career as he did win things before the cheating started, which does show that he could do some of it without cheating! His obsession with winning and being the best in the Tour de France certainly consumed him and brought out the very worst thing possible.

Any thoughts on this film?

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