I found this film to be quite interesting. I neither liked or disliked it. It’s not bad by any means. It’s actually pretty good, but I had a few problems with it.
I’ll first address the positives. The film features a good cast, good & pretty cinematography and it’s very well paced. These make it a very watchable & entertaining film.
Now, the negatives.
The first problem I have with the film is that there’s a significant lack of likable characters. There’s no protagonist either. This means that as a viewer, it’s hard to get invested in a character’s journey.
Ben Foster is fine as Lance Armstrong but he’s not the nicest of guys & while he’s the lead character, he’s also kind of presented as the main antagonist.
The only possible protagonist in the film is Chris O’Dowd’s character. However, he’s not in the film enough nor does he actually do a great deal in the end in order for him to be the protagonist. In fact, he kind of vanishes towards the end of the film. The trailer for the film would have you believe that a lot of the film focuses on his attempts to take down Lance Armstrong, but that’s not what the film is about.
This leads me into my second negative. The film seems to be focused on sending a message and addressing the key, noteworthy events instead of telling a story or exploring characters. The film focuses on the career of Lance Armstrong and his drug use rather than on him as a person.
The film jumps through time very briskly but by doing so, it overlooks large chunks and events of history. It ultimately fails to provide much information that wasn’t shown on TV or the news.
I also didn’t like the ending. It’s a bit underwhelming & disappointing.
I should point out that I’m not a cycling fan nor am I all that familiar with Lance Armstrong’s story. I can’t therefore judge the film or the cast based on the accuracy to real events & people.
The Program is a very watchable film. If you’re at all interested in the subject matter, I’d recommend it. If like me, you’re not, it’s still pretty entertaining. There are a few issues with the film, the lack of a protagonist for example, which prevents the film from reaching the heights of some other biopics. That’s not to say that it’s always necessary for a film to have a protagonist, because it’s not. But the lead character has to have some redeeming/likable qualities; Ben Foster’s Lance Armstrong doesn’t possess any.