I can imagine that being a full time documentarian can sometimes be a stressful job because the film that you set out to make doesn't always end up being the film you end up with. "The Armstrong Lie" is interesting enough but ends up being a little too bloated with facts with too few revelations as we look at the unlikely events in the life of a man who was at one times America's most beloved athlete.
In 2009, director Alex Gibney was hired to make a film about Lance Armstrong's comeback to cycling. The project was shelved when the doping scandal erupted, and re-opened after Armstrong's confession during an interview with Oprah Winfrey and we get full insight and access into what inspired and led to his ultimate downfall from the public pedestal.
Gibney who has a tendency of producing documentaries like they are Pez that are exiting the dispenser, picks this film up again literally hours after Armstrong's infamous interview with Oprah Winfrey and while the facts are interesting, the film is just as much about his experience in picking up the film again as it is about Armstrong. Gibney lays out all the information, of which there is quite a bit in a well enough manner but so many sections of it all feel incredibly bloated and it never finds the right gear. It mostly feels as if it is an examination of how Armstrong was able to lie so effortlessly and self-amazement since Gibney and the world at large bought into it all.
Armstrong always feels like he is manipulating the situation, even when Gibney is trying to corner him into a "gotcha" moment, he simply can't because Armstrong is so effective at believing the lies and the fictions that he has spun. Even when presented the facts, Armstrong is so deadpan and serious when he tries to sell his story that it does create some self doubt in us as an audience.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are quite solid and the special features on this disc include a feature length commentary track from director Alex Gibney, a Q&A session with Gibney, Frank Marshall, Bill Strickland, Jonathan Vaughters and Betsy Andreu along with some deleted scenes.
Less a film about a period of time or individual, "The Armstrong Lie" is ultimately more about how effective the deception was rather then motivations behind it all. Armstrong's tale is an interesting one without a doubt, and it is no surprise that as a pro athlete that his will to win is incredibly powerful but he is simply too strong willed or unwilling as a subject of a film because it all just feels like a rehash of what has been seen in the media and never truly cracks the armor or public image of Lance Armstrong. Instead it is a decent profile of the competitive nature and the unwavering desire to succeed by athletes who hit the highest levels of the respective disciplines.
2 out of 5 stars.