6.5/10
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The Program (2015)

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2:11 | Trailer
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.

Director:

Stephen Frears

Writers:

John Hodge (screenplay), David Walsh (book)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Ben Foster ... Lance Armstrong
Chris O'Dowd ... David Walsh
Guillaume Canet ... Dr. Ferrari
Jesse Plemons ... Floyd Landis
Lee Pace ... Bill Stapleton
Denis Ménochet ... Johan Bruyneel
Edward Hogg ... Frankie Andreu
Dustin Hoffman ... Bob Hamman
Elaine Cassidy ... Betsy Andreu
Laura Donnelly ... Emma O'Reilly
Peter Wight ... Sunday Times Editor
Nathan Wiley ... Charles Pelkey
Chris Larkin ... John Wilcockson
Mark Little ... Rupert Guinness
Michael G. Wilson ... Lance's Doctor
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Storyline

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.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Champion. Hero. Legend. Cheat. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Sport

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | France

Language:

English

Release Date:

18 March 2016 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Untitled Lance Armstrong Biopic See more »

Filming Locations:

Austin, Texas, USA See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$5,763, 20 March 2016

Gross USA:

$13,074

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$3,335,613
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

British cyclist David Millar was Cycling Consultant to the film. See more »

Goofs

In many of the scenes showing Armstrong riding in his early tour wins he is seen wearing Oakley Radar Sunglasses that were not yet released. See more »

Quotes

[repeated line]
Lance Armstrong: I have never tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.
See more »

Connections

Spoofs Lost in Translation (2003) See more »

Soundtracks

Blitzkrieg Bop
Written by Joey Ramone, Dee Dee Ramone (as Dede Ramone), Johnny Ramone, Tommy Ramone
Performed by Ramones
Courtesy of Warner Music UK Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Unforgiving drama that brings yet more shame to the name of Lance Armstrong
17 October 2015 | by bartonj2410See all my reviews

'Champion. Hero. Legend. Cheat.' reads the tagline for The Program, Stephen Frears' film about the controversial and illegal route Lance Armstrong took to winning seven Tour de France titles between 1999-2005. It sure is simple yet delivers a powerful message about one of the once most iconic heroes in sport.

David Walsh (Chris O'Dowd), an Irish journalist for The Sunday Times, first meets Lance Armstrong (Ben Foster) before his Tour de France debut in 1993. Impressed with his enthusiasm yet wary of his chances, Walsh predicts Armstrong will only make a minor impact in the world of cycling.

Fast forward to 1999, Armstrong has beaten testicular cancer and won the first of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles, as well as launching Livestrong, a charity to help those affected by cancer. Walsh, curious of Armstrong's miraculous recovery and performances, begins to doubt the champion and embarks on a journey to uncover the truth in regards to whether Armstrong was using banned substances to enhance his performance.

With the whole world seeming to side with Armstrong, Walsh faces a lonely battle to unearth the truth and bring both justice and respect back to the sport he loves.

What struck me most about The Program was the extent of Armstrong's deception and the program he and his team imposed to both use and hide the use of performance enhancing drugs. Being a true story, I knew that he had confessed to the use of these substances, I just didn't know how he went about it. The Program was a real eye-opener for me, that's for sure.

Frears' film is precise and wastes no time in trying to paint Armstrong in any good light, in fact the film paints Armstrong in the style of Picasso, his character becoming distorted to the point where he becomes almost unrecognisable. There is no time wasting here and with Walsh's brilliantly titled book, Seven Deadly Sins, being the inspiration for the film, Frears has plenty of ammunition to play with.

The performance of Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong has to go down as one of the best of this year. For a long time, Foster has been impressing in supporting roles, even if the films aren't that good however, The Program marks the first time where Foster gets to take centre stage and he well and truly knocks it out of the park as Armstrong, very much portraying him as the villain of the piece.

There is good support from O'Dowd as the persistent Walsh, taking a step away from the comedy roles you would normally associate him with, and Jesse Plemons as Floyd Landis, a member of Armstrong's team who saw both the good and bad in what Armstrong was doing.

The editing by Valerio Bonelli and Danny Cohen's cinematography of the race sequences perfectly capture just how much of an advantage the drugs gave Armstrong and his team, a task made even more achievable with the fact that Foster was taking performance enhancing drugs while shooting the film.

Armstrong may have been shamed and stripped of his seven Tour de France titles but The Program will bring the story to a whole new audience who may know nothing about his deception. Everything he has ever achieved in sports and with his charity is all based on a lie and Frears' film really powers this home.


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