Danish director Janus Metz has assembled a staunch biopic about the two Wimbledon champions focussing on the build up to the 1980 Wimbledon final, watched by a television audience of 17.3 million viewers.
Newcomer Sverrir Gudnason plays the Swede as a stoic, dedicated athlete who is uncomfortable being recognised walking down the street. Shia LaBoeuf, meanwhile, is the temperamental McEnroe. The narrative leans heavily on their contrasting dispositions – scenes of McEnroe partying are cut against Borg in his hotel room, diligently measuring his pulse rate. Sports commentators act as a kind of Greek chorus, filling in exposition as required (“McEnroe is the bigger talent, but playing Borg is like being hit by a sledgehammer”), allowing Gudnason and LaBoeuf to get on with more actorly work. Gudnason is good as the enigmatic Bjorg, eventually making an introverted, enigmatic character likeable. LaBoeuf chews his way greedily through McEnroe, savouring every unpredictable tic, cuss and hissy fit.