The Program Film Review

Film Review by Jarred Tito

The Premise
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.

The Review
If you're a Lance Armstrong hater, and there are more than just a few, you will relish this movie because it really does not paint Lance in a very good light at all. Having said that, as far as a movie goes, this is actually not a bad one. Admittedly, the writer John Hodge and director, Stephen Frears go to great lengths to keep the facts as true as possible to the actual story because, as one would expect, this film will surely be heavily scrutinized by both those for and against the ten-year on-and-off road cycling saga. And although at times the story does play a little close to the line of being a 'reenactment' piece like you might see in a documentary, it manages to stay true to the movie form.
There are some great performances from the likes of comedian / actor Chris O'Dowd who plays a very serious and zealous journalist key to the eventual deconstruction of Armstrong. It's not often that you see O'Dowd in such a serious, dramatic role but like most comedians who cross the divide from comic to drama, he does so extremely well. Ben Foster plays the role of ego-maniac Lance Armstrong perfectly. Not that I can really say I know what kind of man Armstrong is in real life, but if he is half the man that 'The Program' portraits him as I can see how over the years he managed to accrue so many Tour de France advisories.
If you are one of those who over the course of Armstrong's stronghold over the 'tour de France' wanted to get closer to the inside story of the whole drawn out spectacle, this film does offer some insight and for many of us, closure. It's well written and acted and is an enjoyable watch.

The Verdict
Although I was not quite sure what to expect from this movie I found myself engaged throughout. It's informative and emotive. Hopefully films like this one will help in the campaign to ensure professional sports such as cycling finally clean up their act. Although the plot for this film and conclusion have been well and truly played out over the many years of media coverage in the news, this film still does have a lot to offer to many. It does bring a lot of closure which I found to be quite satisfying. 

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 26th November 2015
Rating: TBC
Duration: 103 minutes 
Genre:  Drama
Starring: Ben Foster, Chris O'Dowd, Lee Pace, Dustin Hoffman, Jesse Plemons
Director: Stephen Frears (Philomena, Tamara Drewe, High Fidelity)

The Extras
The film is based on Walsh's book "Seven Deadly Sins: My Pursuit of Lance Armstrong".

Foster admitted the emotional storyline about the disgraced cyclist took more a toll on him than the physical demands of the role.

In an interview with The Guardian, Ben Foster admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs under medical supervision to prepare for the role.


British cyclist David Millar was Cycling Consultant to the film.