The Program 2015 Movie Scene Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong telling his teammates to focus during Tour de France race

The Program [2015]

I’m still having a hard time understanding why this movie isn’t more popular. I mean, people love these “fly close to the sun and get burned” stories. It could be that they’re not looking for a sports movie or that the movie simply fell through the cracks. Whatever the case may be, Rabbit Reviews is here to recommend good movies and this is definitely one of them. The Program is a movie about the American cyclist Lance Armstrong and his doping scandal. As someone who’s not into cycling, I found the movie to be quite fascinating. Especially the whole Tour de France segment along with the technical details about the doping.

You can’t have a good movie about a real person if you don’t hire the right actor for the part. And oh boy did they hire the right actor here. Ben Foster is the driving force of The Program giving an incredibly committed and realistic performance. The man even took performance-enhancing drugs himself while preparing for the role. I remember how he blew me away with his role in Alpha Dog, another movie based on true events. Apart from him, I would also like to single out Chris O’Dowd (IT Crowd) and Jesse Plemons (Breaking Bad).

But only because they had bigger roles than Guillaume Canet and Denis Ménochet who were also excellent. The entire cast did a terrific job, to be honest. The title of this movie, The Program, refers to an actual program Italian doctor Michele Ferrari came up with. It consists of a series of rigorous scientific tests combined with large amounts of special performance-enhancing drugs. All of these elements combined practically guarantee a win in any competition. And if you want to win no matter what, this is a golden opportunity to do so.

It is the year of our lord Satan 1993 and young cyclist Lance Armstrong is excited about the next part of Tour de France, the biggest cycling competition in the world. And the hardest one. He thinks he can overtake the leading pack but unfortunately ends up not even close. Still determined to win the event, Lance is willing to do everything and anything in order to win. And he does. However, Irish journalist David Walsh thinks that something’s not adding up here. So, he starts digging around, trying to figure out how this man just keeps winning and winning…

The Program is also a character study allowing us a look inside an athlete willing to do whatever it takes to win. I mean, the man won the most prestigious cycling tournament many years in a row by using PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs). If he did once or twice, I think he would get away with it. However, once he tasted that sweet victory juice, he was hooked. Another interesting aspect about this whole incident, if we can call it that, is the reaction of everyone else but the doping teams. I’m talking about judges, cycling federations, sponsors, and all the other entities.

Just like in a tv show I recently watched, We Own This City, you see that the rot has not just set in, it was always fucking there. And it appears that it will never go away. Featuring fast pacing and coherent storytelling, The Program is a movie that’s going to hold your attention. Even if you don’t like movies about sports, it’s a fun watch. Especially on those weekdays when you’re looking for something different and refreshing. It certainly was a nice change of pace for me and my obsession with classic thrillers and action movies.

Director: Stephen Frears

Writers: John Hodge, David Walsh

Cast: Ben Foster, Chris O’Dowd, Jesse Plemons, Guillaume Canet, Lee Pace, Denis Ménochet, Dustin Hoffman

Fun Facts: One of the main reasons why the French actor Guillaume Canet, who barely speaks English, was cast as doctor Michele Ferrari was because the director Stephen Frears couldn’t find an Italian actor who speaks English well enough in time.


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