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Rated 3.01 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Revealing and Suspensful
by Betty Jo Tucker

Icarus, Bryan Fogelís revealing documentary about doping of athletes to improve their performances, plays almost like a spy thriller. And what a fascinating real-life character shows up to hold our interest!  Fogel appears as himself, of course, as does his intriguing co-star, Grigory Rodchenkov. Iím betting that Fogel had no idea what he would become involved in as the result of asking Rodchenkov for his help early on.

But who better to contact about performance enhancing drugs than Rodchenkov, former director of a Moscow laboratory titled The Anti-Doping Center? Fogel could not possibly foresee how far he would go to bring the controversial Rodchenkov to the USA -- nor what risks he would have to take while working with this doping mastermind. Although the doping, anti-doping and fraudulent test activities shown here seem complicated and difficult to understand, Icarus keeps its eye on Fogel and Rodchenkov, which helps viewers follow along with rapt attention.  

Besides focusing on the doping issue, Icarus deals candidly with whistleblowing, friendship, commitment, curiosity, science and human foibles.       

Close to the sun, Icarus flew.

But his wax wings just would not do.

Yes, they melted. It was too hot.

Could there be something he forgot?


Icarus, the film, like this tale,

shows what can happen when things fail.

A documentary so good!

See it, folks, you really should.


Screening athletes for use of drugs

is complicated and filled with bugs.

But one smart man found both a way

plus a system to cheat, they say.


No wax wings now. Itís still the game.

This film shows the price of fame.

Doping and anti-doping are at the core

of Icarus, which does not bore.

Itís no surprise that Icarus won The Orwell Award at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Incidentally, George Orwellís 1984 appears to be Rodchenkovís favorite reading material.  

I canít help thinking what a great fictionalized thriller this true story would make! Fogel could be portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal (Prisoners) and Rodchenkov by Christoph Waltz (Inglourious Basterds). Waltz would have to work on a Russian accent -- but heís such a terrific actor, so that shouldnít be a problem. I would put that movie on my must-see list, for sure.      

People are celebrating Olympic champion winners, but we are sitting crazy waiting and replacing their urine. --- Grigory Rodchenkov

Itís not every day that a whistleblower is actually willing to be identified. --- Laura Poitras

(Released by Netflix. Not rated by MMPA.)

For more information about Icarus, go to the IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes website.

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