Cycling Review: ‘The Program’

In today’s Cycling Review we take a look at The Program, starring Ben Foster (Freaks and Geeks, X-Men:The Last Stand) and Chris O’Dowd (The IT Crowd, Bridesmaids), The Program is a biopic about Lance Armstrong’s rise to the top of the cycling world, and his dramatic fall from grace.

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Ben Foster plays Lance Armstrong

Directed by Stephen Frears (High Fidelity, The Queen), The Program is a gritty and spectacular re-creation of professional cycling in the 1990s and 2000s. It was a great trip down memory lane seeing some famous stages and cycling teams re-created on screen, and the level of authenticity in the team jerseys was impressive.

Aside from pretty visuals, the film also has a compelling story to tell. We see the fascinating conflict between Lance Armstrong, the supposedly clean, cancer-beating cycling champion, and David Walsh, the ever-cynical cycling journalist, who unlike many of his colleagues just isn’t buying the Armstrong myth.

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Chris O’Dowd as journalist David Walsh

The film does a great job of portraying the scary underbelly of the professional cycling world, similar to The Secret Race (see our review here). It’s quite horrifying to see the levels that these professional athletes went to in order to win.

Ben Foster is brilliant as Lance Armstrong; he has the voice and mannerisms down pat. Chris O’Dowd gives a great supporting performance as David Walsh. We found ourselves rooting for Walsh as he continuously questions Armstrong’s achievements whilst receiving little support from his own colleagues. It’s simply amazing how everyone was swept up in Lance-mania.

Overall, we found The Program to be a great movie with an awesome soundtrack and a fascinating story. The only downside for us was that it could have been longer; a few more racing scenes wouldn’t have gone astray. It would have been interesting to see more of the fallout of Armstrong’s ban, as the end felt a bit rushed. Having said that, it was a highly enjoyable film, a must watch for any cycling fan.

Score: Polkadot Jersey  

What did you think of The Program? Did you like it as much as we did? Let us know in the comments below.

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The scoring system explained:

Yellow Jersey: The jersey given to the winner of the Tour de France. A brilliant film/book.

Polkadot Jersey: Awarded to the winner of the most King of the Mountain points. This would be a very good book or film, but not in the same class as one which scored a yellow jersey.

Green Jersey: The jersey awarded to the winner of the most sprint points at the tour. This is an entertaining book or film, but not in the same substance as the two grades above.

Lanterne Rouge: The Lanterne Rouge is known in cycling circles as he who finishes last place in the Tour de France. In this scoring system it will be given to a book or film that misses the mark completely.

 

 

4 thoughts on “Cycling Review: ‘The Program’

Add yours

      1. No films really. Doubt there are many good cycling films. The Pantani doco is worth a watch.

        My favourite cycling book (and probably all time fav book) is The Escape Artist by Matt Seaton. It’s not about pro cycling, but about the average joe British club racer dealing with life and loss. It’s the only book I’ve ever read twice and I need to re-visit it again.

        https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/893566.The_Escape_Artist

        Liked by 1 person

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