Today, tennis is multi-billion-dollar sport which is watched and played all over the world. In order to even consider getting near the top 100 you have to be a superb athlete. Fitness regimes, dietary plans rigorous training sessions are par for the course. This hasn’t always been the case. Until Bjorn Borg arrived on the scene in the 1970s, tennis was a game for the privileged and the playboys. By the time 1980 came around, two Americans had made it an entertainment business. Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe shuck up the establishment. The rivalry between McEnroe and Borg would revolutionise the game. It’s captured in Janus Metz’s new film.
It’s 1980 and Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) is the world number one. He’s favourite to win his fifth Wimbledon championship in a row. John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf) is the bad boy and young upstart of tennis. His outbursts on court have made him notorious but he’s an incredibly talented player. As the pair progress through the round and towards an inevitable showdown in the final, the pressure begins to get to both of them.
Borg vs McEnroe could easily have been a run of the mill biopic, but Metz handles the material in a way which builds up the tension whilst introducing their back stories in an interesting and engaging way. Gudnason is brilliant as Borg. He’s a bubbling pot which threatens to boil over at any minute. Stellan Skarsgård is also superb as his trainer, whilst LaBeouf looks eerily like the superbrat. Borg vs McEnroe is a superior biographical film which builds the drama on and off the court.
Borg vs McEnroe is released on DVD, Blu-ray and on-demand by Curzon Artificial Eye on 22 January.