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Borg vs McEnroe Review - Serves Up Solid Entertainment

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Borg vs McEnroe, from SF Productions and Neon, presents a story played out on Wimbledon’s Center Court, 1980, and the back story of the hard won victory’s that brought each of the men to this pivotal and historical moment.

Directed by Janus Metz, Borg vs McEnroe stars Shia LaBeouf, Sverrir Gudnason, Stellan Skarsgard, Ian Blackman, Tuva Novotny, Demetri Goritsas, Roy McCrerey, Robert Emms, Jason Forbes, Tom Datnow, Colin Stinton, Leo Borg, and Jane Perry and was written by Ronnie Sandahl.

Borg vs McEnroe begins with flashes of the bad boy of tennis John McEnroe, played by Shia LeBeouf, in what had become a trademark of critiques, in a variety of four letter words, of the calls made by the court judges. McEnroe, some said was in deep need of anger management. His short fuse was notorious.


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A rising tennis star, it was 1980, sport stars were worshiped with a fan loyalty. Even in the gentlemen’s sport of tennis the decadent of society opened the doors to every party. It was the off court life mirroring the rock star life.

On the other side of the world, Bjorn Borg, played by Sverrir Gudnason, a four time Wimbledon Men’s Champion, whom the media dubbed the ice man, as he rarely showed his emotions, was hiding from the waiting media, the fans, the girls, autographs seekers, the world. He was the tennis man of the hour, single, handsome, a gift to his country and everyone wanted a piece of him.

McEnroe, as the film goes was ready to take on the Goliath of tennis, the only thing stopping him, as the media explained in bold letters, was himself. His tirades on the courts had the tennis world in shock. Before retreating into one's own world was cool, McEnroe was seen wearing headphones, blaring hard rock music.

For Borg, the only person stopping him from a fifth straight Men’s Single title according to the media was John McEnroe.

Throughout the film, the director returns to the childhoods of each of the players, with a young Borg, played by Bjorn Borg's son Leo Borg, scouted by Sven Lennart Bergelin, played by Stellan Skarsgard, a Swedish tennis champion and coach, after he was expelled from tennis for unsportsman conduct and none of the other mother’s would let their sons play tennis with him. Soon he was winning championships one point at a time.

John McEnroe Sr., played by Ian Blackman, was a constant figure in John’s life. Waiting in the wings during a talk show, where the host, played by Colin Stinton, was attempting to bait him to blow up. Charting the course to the finals on the hotel wall, he showed Jimmy Connors, played by Tom Datnow, who seemed a bit confused as McEnroe had him losing in the semi-finals.

Tennis great Arthur Ashe is played by Jason Forbes; Vitas Gerulaitis is played by Robert Emms; Ille Nastase, played by Val Jobara.

When the two get to center court in the 1980’s Men’s Wimbledon Final, each are fighting for something other than the table stakes, Borg a permanent place and a fifth title, and McEnroe, the respect of the UK tennis fans.

The film builds the anxiety, with McEnroe stunning the expected champion who missed seven match points. The 20 minute Sudden Death will forever be known as one of the greatest moments in tennis history. Sports statisticians note that it would twenty years before another match was played that could rival the thrill of Borg vs McEnroe.

Borg vs McEnroe is a great film; It's easy to be swept up as the match becomes a test of wills, determination and stamina, and as I couldn't remember who had won, I was viewing from the point of the Wimbledon audience and it is a beat per beat, point by point, a real nail biter. Exceptional.

The director Janus Metz wove a tale of champions that doesn’t begin with the promise of greatness, and carries with it the burdens of fame, which some handle quietly and others aggressively.

When the love of the game, the desire to challenge oneself, to be better than the last match, the inner drive that won’t let up even when the competing messages scream it’s over, revive the dream, again and again. He brings the low points, the high points, the pinnacles and sweeps the audience up into it.


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The casting was perfection. Shia LaBeouf handles the explosiveness of McEnroe’s famous court challenges and Sverrir Gudnason, a newcomer to American audiences, who bears such an uncanny resemblance to Bjorn Borg even without the make-up and hairstyling embodies the Swedish tennis star Borg. Stellan Skarsgard, Ian Blackman, and Tuva Novotny, another newcomer to American audiences, are the inner circle of this smash hit.

Borg vs McEnroe is superb! Impressive filmmaking with top seed talent bringing the exceptional game to center court. Outstanding entertainment.

Born vs McEnroe, which debuted at Toronto International Film Festival, opens in the United States April 13, 2018. Get caught up and feel the rush of real victory. See it.

 

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