Director: Alex Gibney
Studio: Sony Pictures Classics
Rated: R (For language)
Most claim that they even doped themselves, and a recurring statement that keeps popping up is “everybody in the sport dopes.” I admit that in regards to the doping allegations I've always been a little bit on the fence about them. I found the fact that Lance lost all of his titles and wins without there being any solid proof of him doping to be a bit strange. Even after he admitted to doping I wondered whether or not he was finally coming clean about his past or whether he was just trying to save face. Watching Gibney's movie makes a stronger case for the latter than the former. “The Armstrong Lie” is usually interesting to watch, but the film doesn't make a strong enough case that Lance really did anything wrong. Like all the other reporters he doesn't provide a shred of evidence to prove that Lance doped. The only people who testify against him are all former teammates who strike me as bitter for not being as successful as him.
Many of the characters mention that Lance is a very vindictive person, who sets out to humiliate anyone who crosses his path. With the exception of a news clip where he chews out a reporter for asking a stupid question there is no evidence that he is vindictive. No video clips, no recorded phone calls, or even e-mails that back up anything his former teammates say. Even Michael Moore had questionable health insurance applications when he decided to go after the health care system. Considering Gibney directed one of my favorite documentaries in the past fifteen years (“Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room”) makes this all the more disappointing. His previous films have shown lots of great detective work with damning evidence, and the facts speak for themselves.
The fact that Gibney has to actually tell the audience in the end that Lance is a fraud creates two huge problems. The first is that as a documentary filmmaker you aren't supposed to make bold claims like this without evidence, but the second problem is the fact that he has to tell the audience Lance is a despicable person speaks volumes about the lack of proof there really is behind the claims in the first place. For the most part Lance comes off as a nice guy. He also comes off as a generous man to people with cancer and always full of optimism. There are times we can tell he regrets saying certain things in the past, but for the most part he doesn't come off looking very bad at all. It's as if the whole world claimed the man was a monster and forgot to let him in on this known fact.
Parents, there are moments of brief strong language. Recommended for ages 14 and up.