The Program review

There's nothing to get stuck into with this drama about the Lance Armstrong scandal. Foster gives a commanding but resolutely unsympathetic portrayal of the disgraced cyclist – eager for first place success at the Tour de France and securing seven consecutive wins, masking from all the fact he was on performance enhancing drugs. The actor certainly gets the egotism of the man across but we are given precious little insight into what was really going on with him underneath.

As the dogged Sunday Times journalist David Walsh, on whom's book this film is based, O'Dowd is engaging and convincingly determined, flummoxed that no-one can see the sharp change in Armstrong's abilities over the course of one year early on, and the lone dissenter when his spectacular success is cheered on by the gullible media. There's good work too from Menochet as Armstrong's trainer and Plemons as his disillusioned team mate,  Floyd Landis.

Director Frears does an OK job of this true life tale - it's solid and moves at a fair clip but is also choppy and uncompelling. Maybe it's because the well documented story is too familiar - there is nothing here to surprise you, so consequently it never becomes a riveting expose nor a powerful thriller. It's watchable enough but unexciting and, well, pedestrian.

The Program at IMDb

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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