Metascore
67

Generally favorable reviews - based on 37 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 28 out of 37
  2. Negative: 0 out of 37
  1. Reviewed by: Chuck Wilson
    Nov 5, 2013
    90
    To use a phrase from the film, The Armstrong Lie is a "myth-buster." It's wholly necessary, brilliantly executed, and a complete bummer.
  2. Reviewed by: Justin Chang
    Sep 17, 2013
    90
    Director Alex Gibney delivers not just a detailed, full-access account of his subject, in all his defiance, hubris and tentative self-reckoning, but also a layered inquiry into the culture of competitiveness, celebrity, moral relativism and hypocrisy that helped enable and sustain his deception.
  3. Reviewed by: Bruce Ingram
    Nov 14, 2013
    88
    You’d have to start looking into ancient Greek tragedy to top it as a showcase for pure, unadulterated hubris. That’s one of the things that makes The Armstrong Lie, which has more on its mind than the mere debunking of a tarnished hero, so worthwhile.
  4. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Nov 7, 2013
    88
    He lies with such conviction it's terrifying. And his galling hubris is all there for audiences to watch, absorb and puzzle over in the fascinating The Armstrong Lie.
  5. Reviewed by: Chris Nashawaty
    Nov 6, 2013
    83
    It's a fascinating film that points the finger at a charismatic master of deception — as well as our willingness to buy his deceit.
  6. Reviewed by: Kevin Harley
    Jan 29, 2014
    80
    A master docu-maker gets the inside dope on a master dissembler. It requires stamina, but its charismatic subject exerts genuine magnetism.
  7. Reviewed by: Cath Clarke
    Jan 28, 2014
    80
    What will take your breath away is how viciously Armstrong crushed and humiliated anyone who dared to make allegations against him, and that includes former teammates he’d doped with.
  8. Reviewed by: Bill Goodykoontz
    Nov 21, 2013
    80
    To call Armstrong’s story a tragedy is probably an overblown notion. But it does involve sadness, not just with its depiction of a fallen idol, but with the necessary acknowledgment that some of our own hopes and dreams fell alongside him.
  9. Reviewed by: Kenneth Turan
    Nov 7, 2013
    80
    The whole truth about the complicated, charismatic man may never come out, but The Armstrong Lie is closer than we ever thought we'd get.
  10. Reviewed by:  Chris Michael
    Sep 17, 2013
    80
    Succeeds as a probing look into the mechanics of an epic lie, and because of the emotion at its heart.
  11. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Dec 12, 2013
    75
    On a moral-justice level, we’d like to see this worm squirm a little more over his treatment of ex-colleagues before we let him off the hook to say that everyone else was cheating too.
  12. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    Nov 21, 2013
    75
    The Armstrong Lie is one for the time capsule, because it preserves for future generations a very particular modern response to scandal: confession without remorse.
  13. Reviewed by: Rene Rodriguez
    Nov 21, 2013
    75
    Gibney even convinced Armstrong to sit down for one final interview in May. In it, he comes off as somewhat contrite but also victimized, as if he were being single out for something everyone does.
  14. Reviewed by: Peter Hartlaub
    Nov 14, 2013
    75
    Armstrong acted like a demon, but it becomes clear there were very, very few angels associated with the sport in the 1990s and early 2000s.
  15. Reviewed by: Ali Arikan
    Nov 8, 2013
    75
    The Armstrong story is fascinating. That someone could get away with such a huge lie in plain sight is terrifying.
  16. Reviewed by: Peter Travers
    Nov 7, 2013
    75
    An idol had fallen, and Gibney and the superb director of photography Maryse Alberti were there to capture the descent, including a confessional interview in which Armstrong blames the corruption of the game far more than himself. The movie rambles at two-plus hours, but the provocation never stops.
  17. Reviewed by: Ben Kenigsberg
    Nov 6, 2013
    75
    Those who want to see Armstrong sweat may leave disappointed. Calm and seemingly well rehearsed in interviews, Armstrong shrugs off years of public statements without ever seeming truly remorseful.
  18. Reviewed by: David Denby
    Nov 25, 2013
    70
    The Armstrong Lie goes on forever, perhaps because Gibney can’t believe that, like everyone else, he’s been had. Again and again, he looks for elements of moral clarity (never mind remorse) in Armstrong, and the cyclist looks back at Gibney (and at us) as if he were a fool.
  19. Reviewed by: Ella Taylor
    Nov 8, 2013
    70
    If Gibney was looking for contrition, though, he didn't find it. Armstrong is candid about his doping and his legendary belligerence with the press. But he's confessing, not apologizing. And that "maybe not," mumbled to Oprah, is about as equivocal as he gets — on or off camera.
  20. Reviewed by: Stephen Holden
    Nov 7, 2013
    70
    More glaringly than most sports documentaries, The Armstrong Lie reinforces the sad truth that the adage “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game” doesn’t apply to professional sports. Maybe it never did. Winning is everything.
  21. 70
    The chronology is confusing at times, but the film is never not fascinating.
  22. Reviewed by: Boyd van Hoeij
    Sep 17, 2013
    70
    A quite absorbing but never riveting or revelatory overview of Armstrong’s career and testy personality.
  23. Reviewed by: Jeff Baker
    Dec 12, 2013
    67
    All of Gibney's movies are worth watching. The best ones – "We Steal Secrets" (about WikiLeaks), "Client 9" (about Spitzer) and "Taxi to the Dark Side" (about Afghanistan) – speak truth to power in daring, unexpected ways. The Armstrong Lie feels like wheel-spinning, outraged that Armstrong lied not only to millions of people but to Gibney and then not pushing the evidence to the finish line.
  24. Reviewed by: Oliver Lyttelton
    Sep 17, 2013
    67
    For all its flaws, the film offers as compelling and fair a summary of the case and the man for those less well-versed in the tale as you could ask for from a documentary.
  25. Reviewed by: Michael O'Sullivan
    Nov 21, 2013
    63
    The Armstrong Lie is thorough, fair and thoughtful. It may not, however, close the book on the scandal.
  26. Reviewed by: Michael Phillips
    Nov 14, 2013
    63
    The Armstrong Lie gets going, and gets pretty good, when Gibney is able to focus on the 2009 Tour de France itself, a race fraught with old rivalries and backstage dramas. It's the movie he set out to make in the beginning, after all. But getting there is tough going.
  27. Reviewed by: Sara Stewart
    Nov 7, 2013
    63
    Overall, Gibney does a fine job documenting the timeless nature of Armstrong’s fall from grace. It’s undeniably satisfying to see the man himself lay it out: “It’s very hard to control the truth forever,” he says, awkwardly. “This has been my downfall.”
  28. Reviewed by: Kenji Fujishima
    Nov 4, 2013
    63
    The film can't entirely avoid the feeling of a less-productive score-settling hit piece, as if Alex Gibney was making this film merely to stick it to the subject that screwed him big time.
  29. Reviewed by: David Hughes
    Jan 27, 2014
    60
    A documentary of two halves, Gibney's character study of Armstrong is tough and forensic. But whether through a lingering admiration or the film's origins as a straightforward celebration of the cyclist's talents, there are moments when its powder remains a little dryer than perhaps it should.
  30. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Dec 13, 2013
    60
    It wasn't until Gibney's film was already largely shot that the truth caught up to Armstrong.
  31. Reviewed by: Joshua Rothkopf
    Nov 6, 2013
    60
    Given Armstrong’s squirminess on the couch, you’ll wish this profile had traded a portion of its deep background for a little in-the-moment boldness.
  32. Reviewed by: Robbie Collin
    Sep 17, 2013
    60
    The film leaves you enlightened and disillusioned, but still furious at Armstrong, who seems to have drawn the conclusion that he is now a tragic hero.
  33. Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    Nov 7, 2013
    50
    The Armstrong Lie wears thin before it's over; the wafer-thin nature of the cyclist's personality can't sustain a two-hour running time.
  34. Reviewed by: Andrew O'Hehir
    Nov 7, 2013
    50
    So the rhetorical strategy of The Armstrong Lie is both a strength and a weakness. Gibney’s films have always been about truth, lies and power, but for the first time he finds himself in the ambiguous philosophical terrain of Errol Morris, exploring the lies we tell ourselves.
  35. Reviewed by: Marjorie Baumgarten
    Nov 6, 2013
    50
    Having unfettered access to Armstrong during the 2009 Tour and a face-to-face sit-down with him in Austin hours after his national confession to Oprah, The Armstrong Lie comes across more a good save than a muckraking piece of journalism.
  36. Reviewed by: Scott Tobias
    Nov 5, 2013
    50
    There are mysteries and ambiguities aplenty about Armstrong and the current state of professional cycling, but Gibney has trouble accessing them without getting in his own way.
  37. Reviewed by: Elizabeth Weitzman
    Nov 7, 2013
    40
    There’s so much more to this story — as any number of articles about the people he wronged attest — but this time, Gibney never really gets in gear.
User Score
7.8

Generally favorable reviews- based on 4 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 1 out of 1
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 1
  3. Negative: 0 out of 1
  1. Nov 17, 2013
    8
    The Armstrong Lie is an allegorical tale of America. Lance Armstrong exhibits phenomenal athletic greatness and Machiavellian villainy. With the complicity of the media, Armstrong shrewdly sells the beautiful lie because that's what people want to believe meanwhile abusing power crushing the weak in order to perpetuate fairy tale. Gibney is a consummate story teller and provides insight into the complex relationships of big money corporate sports in an age of moral relativism. Full Review »