We worship, lionize our heroes, those who succeed, accomplish the impossible; we keep them protected in rarefied vitrines; we never dream of besting or defying their insurmountable, indefatigable feats; they’re immortal, unflawed.
Documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, under the mesmerizing spell of legendary Lance Armstrong, seven- time (1999-2005) winner of the prestigious Tour de France, commences by making a film of Armstrong’s 2009 comeback; the scenes are thrilling; the various stages of the three -week race, through cities, treacherous mountainous climbs and descents, mania of the spectators, gift the neophyte the depth of the excruciating inhuman stamina required for the race; herein lies the deficiency, supernatural demands on the body; these overwhelming odds can only be attained by drug-enhancement; “doping” was pervasive and expected of all contenders; it was the norm, not the exception, but Lance Armstrong was the poster boy for ubiquitous denial; he could have pulled off this monumental, nefarious lie if he had not “come back”. From Olympus to the deepest crater, our hero tumbled.
A fall that reverberated around the world; the millions he raised for cancer research, after his victory over testicular cancer; the children who adored him, a knight coming to their rescue; the countless commercials heralding him as Superman; his magnetism, irresistible to the masses; feet of clay, reduced to muddy, crumbling mediocrity; a sham on a bike.
The documentary looses it focus, concentrating too heavily on the “wronged”, disillusioned director, disgruntled friends; maybe revenge is best served lukewarm, not cold. Ultimately, Lance Armstrong’s Achilles heel was his megalomaniac arrogance; psychopathic liar; believing his own untruths and maligning his friends for their veracity.
Armstrong sums it up; in fifty or hundred years will he be considered the winner of those seven yellow jerseys? Who knows? Who cares?
TWO & 1/2 STARS!!