The Armstrong Lie (2013)

Burning my Live Strong wrist-bands as we speak.

At first, when director Alex Gibney decided that he wanted to do a documentary on Lance Armstrong, it was to honor his legacy and hype-up his 2009 Tour de France comeback that came and went. However though, as time went on and more rocks began to get turned over, Gibney started to realize that there was maybe more to what Armstrong wasn’t just letting him on about, but also the rest of the world. See, Amstrong was being investigated on doping-charges (the same types of suspicions that have plagued his whole career), but it didn’t get nearly as bad up until Armstrong’s former teammate, Floyd Landis, came out and said that he was there throughout all of those times that Armstrong himself was doping-up left and right. This is when Gibney decided that instead of making a documentary praising Armstrong, that maybe it was time to focus in on just what was true about these allegations, and just what type of person Lance Armstrong, really is. The results, as expected, aren’t pretty.

I’m pretty sure I speak for everybody out there in the world when I say that I was pretty inspired by Lance Armstrong’s story, all before he went on Oprah and finally came clean. Not only was he able to make a sport like cycling actually seem “cool”, but he seemed to do it all for a cause to help others out there, raise awareness for those who need it the most, as well as give it his all, each and every race he partook in. Back in the day, Lance Armstrong was no joke and he was definitely the type of athlete just about every kid looked up to, regardless of if they had aspirations to play any sports whatsoever.

Even the professionals got to work with training-wheels sometimes.
Even the professionals got to work with training-wheels sometimes.

That’s why when you hear about someone like Lance Armstrong and how much of a dick he was, but a lying dick at that, you can’t help but think, “Why Lance? Why?!?!?” Because the truth is, Lance Armstrong stood for everything any moral, kind, humane person in this world wanted to stand for, but the one thing that he had going for himself was that he was a master at riding a bike and never seemed to lose. Whether or not all of those races he won were done on-the-sauce or not, doesn’t matter, because what matters is that he won, showed everybody out there that you can persevere in the face of danger, and most of all, you can be all that you want to be, just as long as you believed in yourself.

And this is why Alex Gibney’s-stance on this story works so well for this subject, because even though he is judging Armstrong for all of his wrong-doings, he’s also shining a light on the whole media-frenzy surrounding him. Because, if you think about it, the main reason why most of us loved Armstrong, was because the media kept their eyes on him and gave him all the fame, fortune and adoration one man could possibly need. We all fell in love with him because that’s what we’re practically shown everything we could ever imagine this man as being, with barely any cracks to be found whatsoever.

Sure, there were teenie, tiny whispers going around back in the day of how he may have been juicing, or how he may not have had that squeaky-clean image he prompted so firmly out there in the media, but none of us really wanted to believe it. We wanted to believe what it is that we saw, was exactly who Armstrong was, and therefore, we fell for the lie. We were all duped on this one, people! We were told that Armstrong was the most perfect human being ever created, and we practically stood-by it because, well, it’s what we were shown and told.

Now of course, I’m getting further and further away from the man himself, and more towards the media, but I definitely do think that aspect plays a huge-role in this story, much like Gibney thinks as well. He saw the type of man Armstrong was in front of the camera, which is why when he saw who the man was behind it, not only was he a bit taken aback, but he couldn’t help but find out if there was more to this. Was he actually a fraud that just used drugs to get ahead of the game? Or, as he always defended himself in saying, just the victim of what seemed to be a whole lot of jealousy going around in the world of sports? Obviously, we know now what question’s answer is “yes”, and what is “no”, but these are the types of questions that I bet Gibney had rolling around in his head the whole time during the filming of this movie and they translate perfectly to a movie that allows us to see Armstrong for all that he is – as a person, as a figure of the media, as an athlete, as an endorser, and most importantly, as a role model for all of those out there who need one.

And that’s what brings me to my main subject for the hour: Mr. Lance Armstrong himself.

Personally, I’ve never always been a fan of the guy. While I did hold a lot of respect for the guy when I was a lot younger, I grew-up to begin to realize that maybe he wasn’t all that he appeared to be. Now, I am not saying that I expected him to be using steroids this whole time, because quite frankly, I didn’t care. Some parts of me felt like he was a genuinely nice guy, and other parts of me felt like maybe he was just doing it all for show, in order to gain more popularity for himself or the sport he played in. Not saying that the causes he spoke-out for weren’t worthy or anything, but once you figure out that Armstrong himself did a little dirty-dealings on the side to protect his image as this lovely, wonderful peace-keeper, you have to wonder if he really did feel so strongly for these supposed-passions of his. Better yet, it also makes you question just who the hell he is: A nice guy, or a bad guy?

The same type of expression most husbands have whenever their wife stumbles in on them with another woman.
The same type of expression most husbands have whenever their wife stumbles in on them with another woman.

And I do mean to say that in a general, movie-sense where he’s a villain or a superhero; what I mean is that do we know if he truly is a good guy that cares for these people and these causes he backs-up in the public-media, or, is he just a show-boy who knows how to work the camera, work a statement and have enough muscle to make sure that nothing of his public-image gets skewered? Honestly, for me, I feel like it’s more of the later, but I came to that conclusion on my own, which is definitely want Gibney wants. For instance, every interview we ever get with Armstrong, whether it’d be in the past or present-day, we don’t hear Gibney telling us what to think. Instead, Gibney lets Armstrong speak for himself, in lying, cheating and stealing way. Of course Gibney probably doesn’t think the world of him, but it’s not like Gibney’s the one to make us think that – he gives us a subject, gives us his story and tells us why we should pay attention to each and everything the guy says, because you never know if you’ll miss-out on something he accidentally admits to or still feels wrongly about.

Nowadays, it seems like Armstrong’s career, for mostly everything, is over, said and done with. However, what we do have left is a story about a man who, at one point in his life, took the whole world by storm and made us all see him for what he was. Only to then to hit us right back in the face, make us feel betrayed, because what we saw, wasn’t actually the truth. It was Lance Armstrong, being Lance Armstrong, the inspiring, conquer-all-odds medal-winning cyclist; not Lance Armstrong, the human being that was pretty much a dick to everyone that he met or ever worked with, and didn’t play the sport he loved so much, fairly.

Consensus: There’s a lot here in this story that Alex Gibney decides to throw at us with the Armstrong Lie, but it also happens to make us humanize the main subject for the type of person he was in the media, against the type of person he was when the lights went on and the cameras stopped rolling.

8 / 10 = Matinee!!

"Okay, cool. After this, can you all get the fuck out? Thanks."
“Okay, cool. After this, can you all get the fuck out? Thanks.”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBCollider



  1. nice write-up! I feel a bit more harsh against the general public (maybe the American public in particular), who put up every effort to close their eyes from the evidence that was in front of them and supported over the years a story that could not have been more fake. From 2004 on (at the very latest) there could have been no doubt that Armstrong was 1) an excellent racer, 2) at least as much into illegal substances as his competitors, 3) a terrible human being willing to destroy anybody crossing his plans. Why the media and hence the public stuck with the “hero” story for such a long time is quite frankly beyond me. I guess it was easier to believe the straight lies of an American hero than the more complicated allegations of Irish journalists.
    As for the film as a film: a commendable job Gibney did to salvage the wreck of his project and make himself part of the story, as another observer falling into the fan boy trap!
    My own notes on the film:

  2. Awesome to see this reviewed on DTMMR!!! This documentary was fascinating. I learned quite a bit about the guy in this, because I was too lazy/apathetic to do the research on my own. lol. Gibney’s work was important because like you mentioned, this wasn’t even the product he set out to make. . .but he made something perhaps more vital. It was a dagger to the heart learning about his true character, but hey. I’m sure he’s broke as a joke now. Dick.

  3. I still haven’t gotten around to seeing this, mostly because I am quite apathetic toward its subject. But it’s good to hear that Gibney does his normal good work.

  4. Great review man, I saw the trailer for this a little while ago and I thought it looked really interesting. I unfortunately missed the fil when it came out in the UK a good few weeks ago due to it getting a very limited release at very awkward late hours of the day. I heard it was really good. I guess I’ll have to wait for the DVD release then 😦

  5. Good review as always Dan. Guy was a big fat liar, and deserved to be caught. Not that I particularly care about him or the subject all that much, but I do find it interesting that his life took a movie style twist, and turned it into a reality. Role Model who the people love, yet evil genius behind closed doors.

  6. I’ve gotta check this out. It’s fascinating how many people believed everything out of his mouth and the lengths he went to in order to keep up the charade.

  7. As much as I applaud the filmmakers for trying to shed some light on the whole sordid affair, I refuse to give that lying, cheating prick any more of my life. I won’t be watching.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s