‘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

MTA announces service changes for Sunday

The MTA has announced service changes ahead of Sunday's People's Climate March, which will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Riders using…

Local

NYPD launches Twitter account for L train

The NYPD recently launched a Twitter handle dedicated to the L train and its riders. According to @NYPDLtrain, officers went underground Thursday morning to hand…

Local

Bushwick community space offers activists a place to…

A new Bushwick community space offers community activists to meet, create, learn and throw back a few cold ones. MayDay, located 214 Starr Street in Bushwick,…

Local

Activists gearing up for Sunday's "historic" People's Climate…

If all goes according to plan, more than 100,000 people will gather near Central Park West on Sunday morning and march through midtown to raise…

Movies

Review: Terry Gilliam's 'The Zero Theorem' is better…

Terry Gilliam's latest, "The Zero Theorem," concerns a reclusive malcontent (Christoph Waltz) struggling with the search for the meaning of life.

Music

Esperanza Spalding and a being called Emily get…

Esperanza Spalding is about to spiral off in a brand new direction that may or may include an alter ego named Emily.

Movies

Review: Bickering family dramedy 'This is Where I…

A talented cast sits Shiva in the bickering family dramedy "This is Where I Leave You," although it's more sap than yuks.

Movies

Review: Desert-walking movie 'Tracks' would be better as…

Mia Wasikowska walks 1700 miles across Australia's deserts in "Tracks," in a story that defies triumph-of-the-spirit cliches but gets some of them anyway.

NFL

J.J. Watt poses unique challenges to struggling Giants…

Watt, arguably the best defensive player in the league, is the leader of a surprising Texans (2-0) team that has already matched last season’s win total.

NFL

Eric Decker 'unlikely to play' against Bears: Source

Jets wide receiver Eric Decker's status for Monday night’s game against the Bears is in doubt after he missed practice again Wednesday.

NFL

Preston Parker, not Odell Beckham, will replace Jerrel…

Tom Coughlin noted the next man up will be unheralded veteran Preston Parker.

NFL

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

NFL Week 3 full schedule (kickoff time, TV)

Parenting

A sneaky way to serve kids fruits and…

"My First Juices and Smoothies" gives smoothie recipes for kids.

Style

3 things we love from Day 1 of…

The highlights from Day 1 of Milan Fashion Week.

Sex

Why don't more couples use condoms?

  Call it the “condom moment.” That’s the name the authors of a new study have given to the pivotal conversation every couple should be…

Sex

Need an idea for a first date? Here's…

Picture your idea of a nice first date. Is it dinner and a movie? A visit to an interesting museum exhibit? Instead, an expert on…