In one of the year’s must-see performances Ben Foster is Lance Armstrong, multiple Tour de France champion, cancer survivor, and, as we all now know, cheat. Scripted by John Hodge (Trainspotting) and directed by British veteran Stephen Frears (The Queen; Philomena), The Program fairly rockets through the early stages, tracing Armstrong’s meteoric rise - and concurrent investment in performance-enhancing drugs - in bold, brash strokes, before zeroing in on the crusading Irish journalist David Walsh (Chris O’Dowd), apparently the only man in cycling to smell a rat.
This is a movie about power and corruption, big money and bigger hubris. It’s about how easy it is to rationalize cheating when everybody’s doing it, and how hard it is to speak the Truth when nobody wants to hear it. Best of all, perhaps, it provides a horrifyingly vivid cheat sheet on the myriad ingenious ways and means Armstrong and support team devised to game the system.
"Ben Foster, a blisteringly good actor when he’s at the top of his game, has Lance Armstrong down to a tee. He has got his cheating number. To describe his performance in The Program as creepy is saying two things. There are moments in it where the spirit of Armstrong, and even his body – that tight mouth with lies coming out of it – seems to animate Foster’s very being." Tim Robey, Daily Telegraph
"Ben Foster plays Armstrong brilliantly: pumping himself up into a coiled muscle of rage which exhibits as swagger." 4 stars. Catherine Shoard, The Guardian
"Urgent, intelligent and compelling." 4 stars. Andrew Lowry, Total Film