Icarus (2017)

icarus poster 2017 movie documentary
8.5 Overall Score

Shows how deep the corruption can go

Could have a clearer timeline of events, unclear what the ultimate goal of Fogel's original plan was

Movie Info

Movie Name:   Icarus

Studio:   Alex Productions

Genre(s):   Documentary/Sports

Release Date(s):   January 20, 2017 (Sundance Film Festival)/August 4, 2017

MPAA Rating:   Not Rated

icarus russian doping documentary scientists grigory rodchenkov

If you’re going to cheat, go all in!

Bryan Fogel was an admirer of cyclists, but he was shocked to learn about the corruption in the sport with the revelation of Lance Armstrong and the circle of doping which remained uncovered for years. Setting out to see how easy it was to cover performance enhancing drugs, he was pointed by Don Catlin to Russian Grigory Rodchenkov to pull off his experiment. As his own plans crumbled, Bryan found himself embroiled in a bigger story involving doping and Russian athletes. As the world was discovering the truth, Bryan and Grigory find themselves caught in the middle of a dangerous conspiracy that could destroy Grigory forever.

Directed by Bryan Fogel, Icarus is sporting documentary about the uncovering of the doping scandal involving Russian athletes. The film premiered at Sundance on January 20, 2017 and was released on Netflix on August 4, 2017. The film won the Academy Award for Best Documentary.

Cheating at sports is something that has gone on probably since scorekeeping started. You can argue that in the long run “it’s only a game”, but sometimes the image presented by sports “winners” transcend the events and creep into politics…which means winning takes on another aspect and can show the power of a country.

icarus urine samples bryan fogel grigory rodchenkov

Three of these are lemonade and the rest are urine…you drink first

It is the lure of power that lead to problems, first with the Soviets and then with the Russians. The movie doesn’t always do the best job explaining the timeline of events, what occurred, and where the action is occurring. The build up to the Russian stuff is interesting but kind of muddles the thrust of the documentary about the doping during the Olympics.

It is also the lead-up to the Russian doping that raises bigger questions. I am a bit unclear of the real goal of Bryan Fogel’s “experiment”. He documented the doping, but the doping was secret from the athletes he was competing against in Haute Route (which he also seems to imply some of them might be doping by their unnatural skill). If his bike hadn’t broken down and he had come in first or second was he going to jump off the bike and yell “Guess what, I cheated!!!” If he did that is kind of insulting to the other athletes in the race who maybe trained and trained for the moment only to have it taken by a “cheater”…something he claimed to want to stop. You couldn’t give them back the feel of winning even if they technically won.

icarus russia doping documentary bryan fogel haute road race

Cheating is fun!

The movie goes to show how open they were about this cheating. It seems that Grigory wasn’t afraid at all to share his trade secret on camera with Fogel. He seems to outwardly flaunt his ability to trick the testers, but he doesn’t seem to worry to much about the danger from Putin’s Russia or what could happen to his family staying there…until he faces jail time or assassination.

Icarus probably is benefited from watching more than once. The movie’s odd track could benefit from knowing where it is ended up (more than just the news reports). The scary thing about Icarus is that it invalidates almost all sporting events. The Russians (and people like Lance Armstrong) got caught…leading me to question the number of people who didn’t get caught which statistically seems would include the United States as well.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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