The Program (2016)
Starring Ben Foster, Chris O'Dowd, Guillaume Canet, Jesse Plemons, Lee Pace, Denis Menochet, and Dustin Hoffman
Directed by Stephen Frears
***This film is currently streaming via Amazon Prime***
The Program is a perfectly adequate depiction of Armstrong's rise and fall and it certainly is intriguing to see how quickly the allure of success caused the renowned cyclist to turn to drugs -- I never knew (or perhaps forgot) that Armstrong was using the performance-enhancing drugs during every Tour de France win. Ben Foster plays Armstrong with a deviant quietness throughout, narcissistic and pathological in his denials of doping. Egotistical to the hilt, Foster's Armstrong still manages to be someone that the audience doesn't hate which is a credit to the actor. While we never accept Armstrong's doping, Foster humanizes Armstrong enough that we find ourselves wrapped up in the cyclist's lie. Foster himself is reason enough to give The Program a shot.
Unfortunately, the flick falters as it progresses mainly because it grows repetitive in its depiction of Armstrong continuing to elude the cycling community of his actions. Although reporter David Walsh (Chris O'Dowd) had long thought that Armstrong was not winning by sheer athleticism, when the film focuses on Walsh (upon whose book this film was based), it ends up growing a bit tedious mainly because we already know that Armstrong gets his comeuppance. There's little suspense and we're simply waiting for the inevitable to occur. The Program is good enough to warrant a watch particularly if this story is even remotely compelling to you, but I wish it carried a little more punch to take it into a better realm.
The RyMickey Rating: B-