Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Movie with Abe: Icarus

Directed by Bryan Fogel
Released August 4, 2017

There are so many things that happen across the world and throughout history that aren’t known, and only in some cases are they revealed to the public. The breaking of a scandal often prompts further research into what led to it, and interest is sparked by those who have read or heard about it, fueling the release of information that explains how something was allowed to occur and then failed to become known at that time. In rarer cases, an investigation of sorts is already underway in an unofficial capacity and then collides head-on with an unexpected public exposure.

Director and actor Bryan Fogel, an avid follower of Lance Armstrong, was so taken by the news that the star athlete had been doping that he decided to take it upon himself to see how the doping process could practically work. He makes contact with Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, a Russian scientist who was instrumental in helping his country’s athletes pass tests while doping, to test the effects and understand how it works. As their relationship develops, reports break about a massive culture of Russian doping which finds Rodchenkov implicated and Fogel at the center of an incredible exposé that threatens to throw his contact under the bus to protect one country’s reputation.

This is a film that starts out as one thing and turns into something completely different, similar to “The Big Sick” but in documentary form. At first, Fogel is disillusioned by Armstrong’s lying and then curious to see if he could duplicate his actions. As the film progresses and it becomes clear that Rodchenkov is responsible for something enormous that was hardly his own idea regardless of his scientific prowess, it turns into more of a thriller connecting the dots and showing just how big this whole thing goes.

Though this film was released on Netflix back in August, its relevance is heightened now as the Olympics are in full swing and Russian athletes are competing across almost all sports despite the findings detailed in this documentary. It’s refreshing if nothing else to see an Olympic scandal piece that isn’t about Larry Nassar and something about Russia that doesn’t have to do with Trump, but everything about this film is interesting all on its own. It’s informative and gripping, spotlighting something that’s happening just on the fringe of sporting events televised to the entire world.


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