Borg vs. McEnroe

Double Fault


13 April 2018| No Comments on Borg vs. McEnroe     by Sean Chavel



Tennis is a sport that I love, and I’ll gladly sit through any classic tennis match that’s decades old. But this docudrama too often does not do a good job. Borg vs McEnroe is about the 1980 Wimbledon Final between two opposite players, opposite in form and technique and opposite in personality (Sverrir Gudnason as Borg, Shia LaBeouf as McEnroe). Then it shifts into previous year flashbacks. Then it also shifts into childhood flashbacks to color in reasons behind their personalities. The movie makes the point that it was long hidden Bjorn Borg was a hothead as a teen player until a coach honed him in. There’s a great line about Borg when he is a recurring champion: “They call him an iceberg,” one says, “but he’s really a volcano that holds it all in.”

There are flashbacks and then more flashbacks, and more, that pretty much tell the same thing about Borg, about his personality, and how he shaped into a cool-headed, disciplined baseline player. And there’s a little bit of background on John McEnroe the serve and volley player, and not enough of it is suffice to explain his hot temper. You realize the movie is uneven, that more time is spent on Borg than McEnroe.

The crowds hated the brash and foul-mouthed McEnroe in the five rounds before getting to the Finals, which would be billed as Ice Man versus Super Brat. McEnroe gets some advice before the Finals about why he should cool it (One should want to be remembered for being a good role model, right?). The Finals match at the Centre Court of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club is a well-behaved gentleman’s game, with plenty of well-choreographed tennis play and technique. Some of it gets a little bit too fancy, with unnecessary slow-motion shots and close-ups, and when it does that, the movie falls into sluggishness. As a tennis fan, it still is pretty nice seeing one of Wimbledon’s most famous matches dramatized. Yet there’s an over-seriousness, a self-tormented weightiness, to both Borg and McEnroe the entire time that’s laid on too thick and too unnatural. As a result, it makes the film a drowsy one to watch too much of the time. I won’t spoil the winner of the match for you if you’re not knowing, but I will say nobody got booed at.

107 Minutes. Rated R.


Film Cousins: “Personal Best” (1982); “When Billie Beat Bobby” (2001); “Wimbledon” (2004); “Battle of the Sexes” (2017).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


There are No Comments about this post

Add Yours!

You must be logged in to post a comment.