While a film about a famous tennis rivalry may not seem appealing to those who have no active interest in the sport, there is still something to be enjoyed here.
Beneath the surface, ‘Borg vs McEnroe’ is less about a tennis match but rather a story of two fierce rivals who at first appear to be totally opposite but are actually very much the same.
The core focus of the film is the 1980 Wimbledon final, but the story is told out of sequence, an interesting choice by director Janus Metz which juxtaposes the two characters. Calm and collected Björn Borg (Bengt Grive) has won four Wimbledon titles and is looking towards his fifth, when he is confronted with the volatile tennis brat John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf).
While the audience is shown a great deal of Borg’s earlier life, fewer scenes are devoted to McEnroe’s childhood, which gives the film a sense of imbalance. Moreover, the film lacks the drama that emanated from Ron Howard’s ‘Rush’ which told the story of the Formula 1 rivalry between James Hunt and Nicky Lauda. This is not edge of your seat cinema. In fact, the most dramatic moments of the film come from Borg’s coach Lennart Bergerlin, portrayed by Stellan Skarsgård in easily the most impressive performance of the film.
This film is a strong portrayal of a significant moment in tennis history, but it is only worth your money if you have a personal interest in the true story behind the movie.