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Movie Reviews & Ratings
Borg McEnroe  : A Grand Smash
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Friday, December 8, 2017
Drama
Janus Metz Pedersen
Shia Labeouf, Stellan Skarsgård, Sverrir Gudnason

It’s a rare film that Janus Metz directs, bringing alive an iconic Wimbledon match that’s regarded as one of the best ever. It certainly was a fierce five-set clash where two opponents didn’t just tire each other out, it was two contrasting temperaments thatsweatedit out there on centre court. Aptly called the ‘Fire & Ice’ combo, Metz presents the unflappable Bjorn Borg, four-time Wimbledon winner as he prepares for his fifth. The Swede already a legend when tempestuous American brat John McEnroe challenges him on the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon. Borg, cool but fussy, fastidious and superstitious. Same car, same room, same temperature, same seats for his parents. Testing and tuning his racquets the night before a game, like a musician with his instrument, like conducting an orchestra with complete obsession.

 

On the other hand is McEnroe, throwing tantrums around and not endearing himself to anybody. Picking up fights with the chair umpire.

 

It’s a volatile volcano versus cool vanilla ice cream with glimpses into Borg’s past, a bit of McEnroe’s too. But it’s the ultimate showdown in Wimbledon that it all leads to. And an unlikely friendship that mutual respect brings about.

 

For a match that you can catch on YouTube if you’re too young to have seen it live in 1980, Metz manages to keep the game thrilling and not seem like a documentary.       

 

The casting is very interesting with Sverrir Gudnason almost seeming like the placid Bjorn Borg. As the tantrum throwing super brat, ShiaLaBeouf serves an ace. And Bjorn Borg’s real-life son Leo comes in to play the childhood part which is a nice touch.

 

Ronnie Sandahl’s writing keeps it watchable for the two contrasting personalities which is dinned in perhaps a tad too much.

 

A subject like this has restricted appeal as it’s a match where the outcome has been public knowledge for 37 years. But you don’t have to be a tennis fan to feel the thrill of each game as Borg and McEnroe serve and smash as if their lives depended on it. 

 

For a film that’s not a full bio but re-introduces the viewer to the rivalry of two tennis greats, Borg McEnroe gets a 3* rating. 

 

Reviewed by
Bharathi S Pradhan

Senior Journalist & Author

 

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