The Program stars Ben Foster as he steps into the role of one of the most acclaimed and controversial athletes of the twentieth century, cyclist Lance Armstrong.
Based on the true events of Armstrong’s (Ben Foster) life, The Program depicts the tumultuous journey of the athlete’s career – from several Tour De France titles to allegations of doping – Armstrong gets caught in a web of his own lies and deceit, each move criticised by media and Sunday Times journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd).
Armstrong is played by Foster, an actor that is physically similar to a certain degree and is convincingly aggressive. Foster has stated that he purposely took performance enhancing drugs to fully commit to a true and authentic performance. Rightly so, the actor is believable, portraying the athlete with ferocious tenacity and rage that he is known for. Armstrong’s source – Italian physician Michele Ferrari (Guillaume Canet), who fuels the athlete with determination and assists with his performance enhancement. Jesse Plemons plays whistleblower Floyd Landis, the centre of the crash of all of Armstrong’s lies as his admits to his own drug use. O’Dowd shines as a hard working journalist, constantly mocked and debunked by his fellow colleagues for his claims towards the champion cyclist. Director Frears adds a cameo by Dustin Hoffman, entertaining albeit unnecessary.
The Program depicts the eventual downfall of Armstrong’s career, a successful resume built on lies, Frears creates a intriguing insight into the athlete’s undoing. A great ensemble cast with a powerful lead, Frears shows a great combination of drama and sports. The storyline however tends to remain vague and choppy, with uncertain flashback scenes and characters that seem to disappear. Frears strengthens the film by being completely ruthless, driving the film without injustice and showing the viewers the nitty gritty details. It allows for a blank space; Frears directs the film objectively to keep the viewers opinions open. Foster gives an incredible performance in The Program filled with dedication and spirit – a shining moment in his career.