"Best of Enemies Become Best of Friends"
What You Need To Know:
BORG VS MCENROE has many flashbacks to Borg as a rising tennis star as a child, then a teenager. There are only a few flashbacks to the young McEnroe, which don’t play as well. Despite two too many flashbacks of Borg as a teenager, BORG VS MCENROE is riveting most of the way, with fine performances and an uplifting ending. There’s lots of foul language, brief nudity and light wild partying, however. Despite that, Borg and McEnroe not only become the Best of Enemies, they also become the Best of Friends. What a wonderful way to end a sports movie!
BORG VS MCENROE is a very engaging sports drama about the classic 1980 tennis match at Wimbledon between Swedish tennis star, Bjorn Borg, and American “bad boy” John McEnroe. Despite two too many flashbacks of Borg as a teenager, BORG VS MCENROE is riveting most of the way, with excellent performances by the principal actors, but there’s lots of strong foul language due to McEnroe’s volatile personality on and off the court at the time, though his character isn’t the only offender.
As the movie opens, Borg is the Number One seed at Wimbledon, and McEnroe is Number Two. Borg has won the four previous Wimbledon Tournaments, a tremendous achievement in modern tennis, so the odds are in his favor. Despite his obvious tennis prowess, McEnroe is tremendously unpopular because of his foul-mouthed outbursts against the line judges when a call doesn’t go his way and even against the crowd itself.
Although he’s the favorite, Borg is under increasing pressure, and he’s beginning to feel it. Usually seeming ice cold emotionally in public, the pressure to win his fifth straight championship is causing tension between Borg and his long-time coach and between Borg and his fiancée. Is Borg slowing down, or can he meet the challenge from his passionate, hot-headed American rival?
BORG VS MCENROE has many flashbacks to Borg as a rising tennis star as a child, then as a teenager. The revelation in these scenes is that, before he become the Ice King of Calm, Borg was just as volatile a tennis player as McEnroe. Happily, Borg has the good fortune to be mentored by a former Swedish tennis star, Lennart Bergelin. Bergelin tells the young Borg to put all his emotions into playing the game, one point at a time. This is great advice for Borg, but, as Borg faces the pressure of trying to win his fifth straight Wimbledon championship, his bottled-up emotions are starting to get the best of him. As for McEnroe, when the championship is finally on the line, McEnroe seems to settle down, because he’s clearly going up against one of the best tennis players of all time.
All this makes for a fascinating drama. Of course, there’s an in-built advantage for sports movies, because the conflict is usually clear, and there’s usually a winner and a loser. However, BORG VS MCENROE takes full advantage of the dynamics of Borg and McEnroe’s personalities to take things up a notch. Shia LaBeouf does a wonderful job as John McEnroe. It’s a great role for him and plays almost like a comeback. Meanwhile, Swedish actor Sverrir Gudnason makes a perfect Bjorn Borg. He could become an international sensation himself with his performance here. Also, the usually reliable Stellan Skarsgård as Borg’s long-time coach shows once again why he’s so dependable. He gives another impeccable performance. The other characters in BORG VS MCENROE are not as showcased, but Tuva Novotny, who plays Borg’s beautiful fiancée, delivers an appealing performance.
The flashbacks eventually bog down the movie a little bit as the match between Borg and McEnroe is about to get underway. However, the movie’s last half hour is devoted to the ups and downs of the match, which become one of the greatest tennis matches of all time. The movie also briefly shows the aftermath of the match. As such, it reveals a surprisingly uplifting aspect to the athletic rivalry between these two tennis titans. In effect, Borg and McEnroe not only became the Best of Enemies, they also became the Best of Friends. What a wonderful way to end a sports movie!
Extreme caution is advised for lots of strong foul language, a brief image of nudity at a notorious nightclub and references to wild partying.