Flash Movie Review: The Armstrong Lie

I first heard this quote back in my high school world history class. The sandal clad professor was leading a discussion about rulers in power such as dictators and despots. To drive home the point he was trying to make, the teacher quoted Briton, Sir John Dalberg-Acton who said, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” That quote really struck and stayed with me as the class dug deeper into the course. As I finished my schooling and entered into the workforce, I continued to see examples where people in power had some form of corruption. It would be either morally or financially, but each time I would hear that history teacher reciting the quote and be amazed how perceptive Lord Acton was back then. Those quoted words truly apply to this documentary film about cyclist Lance Armstrong. Director Alex Gibney (Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, The Last Gladiators) followed Lance for 4 years, looking to create a film about Lance’s return to cycling and trying to capture his 8th Tour de France competition. In fact, the working title of this movie was “The Road Back.” But after Lance admitted to doping, Alex had a much different story to document. As for the mechanics of this film I thought the director kept a tight rein on telling the story, mixing his footage with news clips and interviews. I found the pacing consistent and at times was surprised by scenes that were captured by the director. On the downside, I felt parts of the movie were a rehash of events that were already reported in the news. Due to this I did find myself getting  bored sometimes. I guess this would lead to an important question one needs to ask themselves before seeing this movie: Do you really care about Lance Armstrong? His life was certainly compelling; a cancer survivor who won the Tour de France made a great story. Add in the work of The Livestrong Foundation, where by the way one club I teach cycling at has their bikes, I could see where a documentary of Lance would sell. However, with the true story now out I really do not have any sympathy for the man. Those words first spoken in the 1800’s about power ring just as true today as they did centuries ago.


2 3/4 stars


About moviejoltz

From a long line of movie afficionados, one brother was the #1 renter of movies in the country with Blockbuster, I am following in the same traditions that came before me. To balance out the long hours seated in dark movie theaters, I also teach yoga and cycling. For the past 3 years, I have correctly picked the major Oscar winners... so join me as we explore the wonder of movies and search for that perfect 4 star movie.

Posted on November 21, 2013, in Documentary and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Your final thoughts are the very reason I’ve yet to see this film. Gibney never fails to impress, but I just don’t care about the principle subject anymore.

    I’ll likely still see this at some point, but I’m certainly in no hurry.

  2. As a cyclist ( and indoor cycling instructor too!) I think I’ve had enough of Lance. Thank you for the review. I’ll wait for it to get to Netflix.

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