Borg McEnroe - This Movie Pretty Much Rocks
Starring Shia LeBeouf, Sverrir Gudnason, Stellen Skarsgard
One of the older members of the team here in the Last Word office is so old he actually remembers the 1980 Wimbledon’s men’s final that is the centrepiece of this pretty engaging movie. Ironically, he’s so old his memory isn’t all it once was and he remembered the outcome incorrectly, thinking the other guy won.
But it’s testament to Metz’ movie that even if you do know the outcome (or remember it wrong) it still manages to keep you on the edge of your seat as some of the greatest tennis ever played is very cleverly recreated.
To the outside world, four times champ Bjorn Borg was the icy cool machine, whilst young contender John McEnroe was the superbrat upstart. But Metz seeks to find not their differences, but their similarities, something that recasts Borg in a different light far more than it does his American counterpart. As such, the film as a whole is more concerned with Borg than McEnroe, which at times is a shame as LeBeouf – and what great casting that was! – is on his best form here for years. But Gudnason (dead ringer for the original tennis ace) is also in a splendid zone here, encapsulating the demeanour of the highly controlled player with the simplest of gestures, and the most longing of looks.
It’s fairly standard biopic stuff for the most part, with little to distinguish it, despite always managing to remain interesting. But the idea to re-cast the third act as something akin to an action movie, complete with some brilliantly realised recreation of that fateful final match, is a definite winner. Either if you remember – correctly – the outcome, you may well still find yourself chomping down on those nails of yours.
(Also, great to see spectators in the stands of Centre Court smoking away like chimneys – Ah, those were the days!)
Borg Vs McEnroe opens September 22 in the UK - the rest of the world will have to wait until 2018 in most cases
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