‘The Armstrong Lie’ reveals nothing new about Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong gets Alex Gibneyed in "The Armstrong Lie." Credit: Sony Pictures Classics
Lance Armstrong gets Alex Gibney-ed in “The Armstrong Lie.”
Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

‘The Armstrong Lie’
Director: Alex Gibney
Genre: Documentary
Rating: R
2 (out of 5) Globes

Since 2010, director Alex Gibney has averaged two or three feature-length documentaries a year. That’s an incredible number for any filmmaker, and the rush shows. His films tackle hot button issues — Enron, torture, Jack Abramoff, Eliot Spitzer, WikiLeaks and more — but in a basic, shallow fashion that betrays a lack of deeper introspection. He’s not an opportunist, per se, merely making films that will draw attention. But what his films reveal is hardly ever surprising, in any interpretation of the word.

It was a given that Gibney would take on Lance Armstrong, whose belated confession to doping during the majority of his illustrious cycling career finally destroyed his reputation in January. Gibney originally meant to make his film in 2009, under considerably different circumstances: It was to be a portrait of his comeback, an attempt to prove that he wasn’t a doper and could still, even at nearly 40, be a commanding racer who deserved his seven Tour de France wins. That proved hubristic, as it wound up only unleashing more allegations, these much more difficult to deny.

Gibney jumps back and forth between then and now, with an open yet still cagey Armstrong bitterly admitting the truth. The big draw of the film is that it includes Armstrong talking in a more frank (or at least more sweary) way than he did when he famously sat down with Oprah Winfrey — but so what? He’s not particularly reflective. Neither is Gibney. Mostly the filmmaker summarizes what has already been heavily summarized, going through his career as a young star who turned an appreciated sport into a phenomenon (read: Americans suddenly cared too), becoming its own new, marketable star.

Gibney touches on how the rise of the sport demanded such superhuman strength that not only was Armstrong taking power boosting substances, but so was everyone else. This could be an interesting avenue: that we demand of our athletes that which they could never give us naturally, then castigate them when they seek alternative means. It’s good that Gibney doesn’t turn Armstrong into a martyr, but that’s mostly because he doesn’t have anything to say. He sticks to a mere narrative, and even includes himself (luckily only on the narration track) for no productive reason. Like its subject it doesn’t appear to have the ability to dig deeper, and is as such fairly useless.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Memorial held for Sean Collier, MIT police officer…

More than 1,600 people gathered at MIT on Friday for a memorial service for Sean Collier, the police officer shot to death a year ago in the aftermath of the…

National

Florida man charged with murdering son to play…

A Florida man annoyed that his 16-month-old crying son was preventing him from playing video games suffocated the toddler, police said on Friday.

International

Powerful 7.2 magnitude earthquake rattles Mexico

A powerful earthquake struck Mexico Friday, shaking buildings and sending people running into the street, although there were no reports of major damage.

News

OMG! Exercise can make skin (and butt) look…

A moderate exercise regime can turn back time and actually reverse the skin's aging process, according to new research. The study showed that a minimum…

Entertainment

Whoopi Goldberg makes her debut as marijuana columnist

"It helps my head stop hurting, and with glaucoma your eyes ache, and she takes the ache out. It's wonderful," she said.

The Word

Kate Middleton made fun of Prince William's bald…

Kate Middleton and Prince William are in Sydney, Australia, right now, and it sounds like that brash Aussie sense of humor might be rubbing off.

The Word

Is Tom Cruise dating Laura Prepon?

"Mission: Impossible" star Cruise is said to be dating Laura Prepon, star of "Orange is the New Black."

Television

'Scandal' recap: Season 3, Episode 18, 'The Price…

Sally is Jesus, Olivia caused global warming, and Mellie's still drunk. Let's recap the Scandal finale. A church full of Washington insiders is about to…

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox defeat Orioles, 4-2

Brock Holt the difference in the Red Sox' win

NHL

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump…

NHL video highlights & analysis: Red Wings dump Bruins in Game 1

MLB

MLB video highlights: Orioles top Red Sox, 8-4…

John Lackey roughed up for second straight outing

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox score two in…

Lester shines in Red Sox win over White Sox

Tech

VIDEO: 'Vein-scanning' may become the future of paying

Designed to make transactions quicker and easier, the technology works by scanning the unique vein patterns in each person's palm.

Tech

#FollowFriday: 10 of the smartest Twitter accounts

Spending lots of time on Twitter? You might as well learn something. Here are some of the smartest accounts to follow.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.