Borg Vs McEnroe, as the title suggests, catalogues the pair fighting it out for the 1980 Wimbledon Final, between No.1 seed Bjorn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) – looking for his fifth consecutive title, and No.2 seed and ‘superbrat’ John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf). The latter was also an eternal hot-head in his day… so LaBeouf was a great choice!
Given how big Borg’s become, by 1980, he’s being offered lucrative deals to play one-off exhibition matches in various countries, as well as selling the rights to his wedding photos. We’re also shown that McEnroe was a bit of a dick to his supposedly best-friend contestants when it came to going up against them on the court. To bump up the running time, unnecessarily, we see the young Borg (played by the man’s grandson), where he comes across just as shouty as McEnroe was in 1980, as well as the young McEnroe solving complex multiplication problems… uhh.. what?!
I know it says the film is “inspired by true events”, but how much was fabricated?
I originally read this film as having a length of 90 minutes, but it’s actually 107, and, in the final analysis, 90 would be more than enough since, as it also jumps back and forth in time to show past events and interviews through both their lives, it’s quite bloated. That makes me feel like the film should be worth less than 6/10, but the two leads always perform a top-notch job and are very watchable. When I first saw the trailer for this, I thought Borg was played by Tom Hiddleston, but it’s not. I’m completely unfamiliar with Gudnason, but it’d be good to see him in additional movies, perhaps with LaBeouf again?
However, the part of the film which needs to pack the biggest punch is the Wimbledon Final, itself. Sadly, it doesn’t. It feels quite lacklustre. Yes, I knew the outcome before I saw this film, but I’d long since forgotten the score, and I didn’t know the ins and outs of who won which set and when, so there should be tension created there. Yet, in comparison to a wonderful movie like Rush, as it built up in the finale, I just did not engage the Borg… (or the McEnroe… yeah, crap joke, I know)
Oh, and those The flashbacks even come up in the final set of the Wimbledon final, and it really dilutes what’s already lost the requisite atmosphere.
Unlike the outcome of the movie Rush, I knew how this one was going to turn out, but I didn’t know the exact number of points, sets won – who was ahead and when, and so on.
The film is presented in the original theatrical 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen ratio and in 1080p high definition, and the picture gets across the cold and harsh feel of the early ’80s as we came out of the ’70s decade, yet we hadn’t shaken the dire decor and fashion.
The sound is in DTS 5.1 HD-MA, but is mostly dialogue and the sound of tennis volleys going back and forth.
The extras are as follows:
- Q&A (29:39): A very interesting Q&A with Sverrir Gudnason, Stellan Skarsgård and director Janus Metz, where we learn they mostly digitally-inserted tennis balls, as I expected, but… I didn’t expect that the movie was shot in Prague, and not Wimbledon!
- Wimbledon Featurette (17:19): Sverrir Gudnason takes a trip to Wimbledon to check out Borg’s legacy. However, for no apparent reason, the machine which shows clips of old finals, including the 1980 final, has the picture cropped to 2.35:1 and then stretched so it’s distorted. Also, the actor’s dialogue is often drowned out by the music, and there’s no subtitles, so you can’t actually hear him. Hmm…
As for this extra, it’s okay, but not great.
- Interviews (66:10): Many of them, with a chapter apiece – with Janus Metz, Shia LaBeouf, Tuva Novotny, producer Fredrik Wikström Nicastro, Sverrir Gudnason, Stellan Skarsgård, Leo Borg, screenwriter Ronnie Sandahl and producer Jon Nohrstedt.
- Trailer (1:33): In the theatrical 2.35:1 widescreen ratio.
Sadly, I can’t begin to imagine who at Artificial Eye thought it was a good idea to have zero subtitles on this disc. Well, they occasionally pop up, but only for non-English dialogue.
The menu mixes clips from the film with a piece of the score, and there’s the bog standard 12 chapters.
Running time: 107 minutes
Released: January 22nd 2018
Widescreen: 2.35:1 (Angenieux Zoom 24-290, Arri Alexa Mini (A Camera), Arri Alexa XT (B Camera), Arri Zoom UWZ 9.5-18 T2.9, Vantage One T1 lenses)
Sound: DTS HD-MA 5.1, DTS 5.1, Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, plus some Swedish, French, German, Spanish
Subtitles: None for English dialogue
Disc Format: BD50
Director: Janus Metz
Producers: Jon Nohrstedt and Fredrik Wikström Nicastro
Screenplay: Ronnie Sandahl
Music: Vladislav Delay, Jon Ekstrand, Carl-Johan Sevedag and Jonas Struck
Björn Borg: Sverrir Gudnason
John McEnroe: Shia LaBeouf
Lennart Bergelin: Stellan Skarsgård
Mariana Simionescu: Tuva Novotny
Young Björn Borg, age 9-13: Leo Borg
Young Björn Borg, age 15+: Marcus Mossberg
Young John McEnroe: Jackson Gann
Peter Fleming: Scott Arthur
John McEnroe Senior: Ian Blackman
Vitas Gerulaitis: Robert Emms
UK Commentator George Barnes: David Bamber
Rune Borg: Mats Blomgren
Margareta Borg: Julia Marko Nord
Kay McEnroe: Jane Perry
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.