BORG VS MCENROE is a Sport’s Movie Ace

I am not a sport’s person, besides looking at the hot guys, football does my head in. I don’t mind following soccer but watching a full game puts me to sleep, golf kills me, swimming is awesome, but maybe this is the hot guy thing again haha. Tennis, however, is one game I have always remotely followed. It is like a battle to the death of fit sport’s masters. I actually played competition tennis for a few years and while I was dreadful, as I just didn’t have a competitive streak, it harnessed a love for the game.

When I heard of BORG VS MCENROE I wanted to see it. When I saw the trailer I already knew I would like it and when I came out of the screening I was enraptured at not only one of the best movies of 2017 but in love with what I consider one of the best sport’s movies of all time.

BORG VS MCENROE released yesterday, Nov 16th (in Australia), from Vendetta Films. It is rated M and runs for 107 edge-of-your-seat minutes.


BORG VS MCENROE Leo Borg image
Bjorn Borg’s actual Son Leo as Young Bjorn




It’s the summer of 1980 and Björn Borg (Sverrir Gudnason) is the top tennis player in the world, dominating the sport both on and off the court. A powerful and rigorously disciplined player, there is only one obstacle in his pursuit of a record-breaking fifth Wimbledon championship: the highly talented but ferociously abrasive young American, John McEnroe (Shia LaBeouf).

With three days until the tournament begins, Borg trains religiously in his lavish Monaco home, aided by his coach and mentor Lennart (Stellan Skarsgård) and girlfriend Mariana (Tuva Novotny). But McEnroe’s explosive confidence and wrecking-ball persona continue to infiltrate Borg’s ice-cool and normally unshakable temperament. With each man the antithesis of the other, both players delve into their formative memories as the climactic tournament draws near and anticipation reaches fever pitch. Visceral and breathlessly tense, the match itself, regarded as one of the greatest of all time, would mark the pinnacle of the ‘Fire and Ice’ rivalry between Borg and McEnroe; an exhilarating battle of personalities that set the world of tennis alight.


BORG VS MCENROE Sverrir Gudnason image
Sverrir Gudnason



While I knew I would like this movie I never knew how much. It is quite possibly the most engaging movie of the year. Good thing for me I forgot the outcome of the actual match even though, as a child, we actually watched most of it, or the parents did while I feigned boredom. To me Borg was foreign and beautiful but I would always support McEnroe at the time, he was more of an Australian in his manner than American, and he was so entertaining everyone loved him. Besides, he was the underdog, who else would an Australian barrack for?

BORG VS MCENROE is one of those biopics that has been studied to death by the director, writer and the production team. Not a single second of the run time is wasted. Danish director Janus Metz has come out of nowhere following a few shorts and foreign TV shows and has made a grand slam of a movie. Likewise writer Ronnie Sandahl, who has only written a few shorts, has delivered a screenplay worthy of awards. The movie plays more like a cat and mouse psychological thriller with sporadic and well placed flashbacks to childhoods of the two tennis warriors. Both so unalike in character to be the so alike on opposite ends of the scale. The battle of wills and imperative to win this grand slam is what makes it one of the greatest games in history.

It should be known that following one of the biggest rivalries in sporting history they eventually became best friends. If memory serves correctly Borg was McEnroe’s best man when he got married.


BORG VS MCENROE Shia LaBeouf and Sverrir Gudnason image
Shia LaBeouf and Sverrir Gudnason



The attention to detail on BORG VS MCENROE is part of the reason for my love of it. Ex Finnish tennis pros Jarkko Nieminen and Veli Paloheimo trained LaBeouf and Gudnason. Their playing and the edit of the movie is so convincing you literally will think you are watching them play one of the greatest grand slams in history. Every frame captures what I can only imagine is perfect recreation. And the tension from the characters is palpable, that mixed with some of the best casting of 2017 makes for one enthralling sports story.

The Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe, Wimbledon Finals from 1980 is either voted the single best or second best tennis match in Earth’s history. The Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer, Wimbledon Finals of 2008 is its rival taking the opposing ranking. The tie break in BORG VS MCENROE will have your guts in a knot and yourself possibly screaming at the screen. Capturing that on film was a master work from Janus Metz and editors Per K. Kirkegaard and Per Sandholt.


BORG VS MCENROE Shia LaBeouf image
Shia LaBeouf



I have mentioned it previously but the casting is applause worthy. Having proper Swedish language and authenticity from the Borg camp was wonderful and while this is the first time I have seen Sverrir Gudnason I am completely in love haha. His Bjorn Borg was better than the real thing and his brooding internalisation of the stress of his passion was sublime. Having the real life son of Bjorn Borg play the younger version was also wonderful and pretty much displayed as a massive approval from the Borg family.

Shia LaBeouf was the single best casting of 2017. LaBeouf’s real-life antics of the last few years is something the McEnroe of the 80s would highly approve of. His regular nuanced performances see him transform completely into his character and seeing him in McEnroe meltdown mode was enough for me to openly clap in a media screening.

And Stellan Skarsgård is a solid performer always. His mentoring as Lennart Bergelin is kind of the father figure we all want in our life.


BORG VS MCENROE Stellan Skarsgård image
Stellan Skarsgård



Like it’s real life epic David and Goliath tennis match, BORG VS MCENROE deserves to go down in history as one of the greatest sport’s movies of all time. It is simply brilliant.





 owns, writes and edits Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Australian Film Critics Association and has been in the  industry for 26yrs. Furthermore he loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. 

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.