It’s the summer of 1980 and Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) is the top tennis player in the world, dominating the sport both on and off the court. A powerful and rigorously disciplined player, there is only one obstacle in his pursuit of a record-breaking fifth Wimbledon championship: the highly talented but ferociously abrasive young American, John McEnroe (a perfectly cast Shia LaBeouf). With three days until the tournament begins, Borg trains religiously in his lavish Monaco home, aided by his coach and mentor Lennart (Stellan Skarsgård) and girlfriend Mariana (Tuva Novotny). But McEnroe's explosive confidence and wrecking-ball persona continue to infiltrate Borg's ice-cool and normally unshakable temperament. With each man the antithesis of the other, both players delve into their formative memories as the climactic tournament draws near and anticipation reaches fever pitch. Visceral and breathlessly tense, the match itself - regarded as one of the greatest of all time - would mark the pinnacle of the ‘Fire and Ice’ rivalry between Borg and McEnroe; an exhilarating battle of personalities that set the world of tennis alight.


Review

A solid sports movie that wisely keeps the tennis action limited until the famous 1980 Wimbledon final at the end.

Given the largely Scandinavian creative crew behind the film, it's perhaps unsurprising that the film chooses to focus on Bjorn Borg's transformation from volatile junior player (played, in a nice touch, by Borg's son Leo, an impressive tennis player in his own right) to the outwardly calm, privately doubtful and ritual obsessed champion.

Impressively played by Sverrir Gudnason, Borg's story may dominate but Shia LaBoeuf more than holds his own with his portrayal of McEnroe. It's the kind of role that, along with the recent American Honey, shows how good an actor he can be. Stellan Skarsgard and Tuva Novotny are also excellent as Borg's coach Lennart Bergelin and soon to be wife Mariana Simionescu respectively.

Former documentary filmmaker Janus Metz (his Danish soldiers in Helmand Province doc Armadillo is well worth a look) and screenwriter Ronnie Sandahl do a fine job juggling the scenes of the tense build up to the final and the youthful flashbacks, plus it looks fantastic thanks to cinematographer Niels Thastum (whose excellent work on Danish werewolf movie When Animals Dream is also worth checking out).

Successful and convincing sports films are tricky to pull off, but Borg Vs McEnroe is a worthy addition to the genre.


By Kevin Knapman


Borg v Mc Enroe (15)

108mins

Director: Janus Metz
Starring: Shia LaBouef, Stellan Skarsgard, Sverrir Gudnason, Tuva Novotny

UK Release: Friday 27th September 2018






Borg v McEnroe - "Borg's worst nightmare" Clip

Borg v McEnroe - "You cannot be serious" Clip