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Movie Review - Warner Bros.' Challengers

Her game. Her rules.

Challengers is a 2024 romantic sports drama film directed by Luca Guadagnino, written by Justin Kuritzkes, produced by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Why Are You Acting?, Frenesy Film Company, and Pascal Pictures, and distributed by Amazon MGM Studios and Warner Bros. Pictures. The film stars Zendaya and Mike Faist.

"Come on!" - Tashi Duncan


After a brutal injury ends tennis prodigy Tashi Duncan's career, she turns to help coach her husband and struggling tennis star, Art Donaldson, by throwing him into a challenger tournament with a bunch of lower level tennis players. When Donaldson reaches the final, he finds himself face-to-face with Patrick Zweig, Tashi's ex-boyfriend and Art's ex-best friend.

The Sweet

Challengers has been one of the most popular films of the past few weeks. I saw the trailers and was not interested, but with the conversation that it's created, I decided to go check it out.

And, while I acknowledge that this movie is not my type of thing, I actually really enjoyed it. The first thing that stuck out to me was the way that this movie was stylized. Hollywood's modern blockbusters often feel so corporate and empty, and Challengers is not that. This is clearly a director with a clear vision executing this story, which I very much appreciate. There's a lot of slow-mo and some crazy, inventive shots that really catch the viewer's eye. Not every stylistic choice works, but it didn't matter, because I really enjoyed the fact that the director told this story from a unique angle.

I also really loved the way that the film was structured. The movie starts off in what we eventually learn is basically the third act, because we keep going back in time and learning more information about these characters and their past. It's such a non-traditional way to tell a story, but it really works, because we keep re-interpreting the main conflict every time we flash back and reveal a new piece of information.

The film also does a really good job of using tennis as a metaphor for what's going on with the characters. The best sports films are able to pull out symbolism within whatever sports game or match is occurring inside the film, and Challengers definitely achieves that. There are many twisted layers to our central love triangle, and we see that put on display in the main tennis match.

Speaking of twisted layers, this film executes its love triangle really well. All three of these characters suck. I don't mean they suck as characters - rather, they suck as people. They are all just bad human beings. But this makes for an interesting dynamic. There's an incredible balance to the relationship between the three of them, which allows you to feel the tension continuously building throughout the film. As the tension grows, you become more invested in this toxic, dangerous love triangle, which just makes for a really engaging film.

I also think Zendaya is great. I am not the biggest Zendaya fan if I'm being completely honest, but this was a different type of role for her. She oftentimes plays a hero in her films. Dune, Spider-Man, and The Greatest Showman all see her as very likable, good people. She is the opposite here. Her character in Challengers is a master manipulator and kind of a psycho, which just allows her to expand her range. I really enjoyed how cruel she was able to get and how controlling she becomes. It's something different for her acting-wise, and I hope she gets more antagonistic roles from here on out.

The Sour

The worst part of this film, by far, is the ending. The ending of this movie does not feel like the ending of this story. Instead of wrapping up the main plot and our characters, we instead get this weird, metaphoric ending that feels incredibly ambiguous. It brings the entire movie down, because it feels like we didn't see the payoff of everything set up. It feels like we were on a roller coaster that just kept going up and stopped at the top instead of going down. It's such a strange and underwhelming way to end the film. It left me very disappointed.

I also think that this film can be a bit of a tough watch because the three characters are so unlikable. Mike Faist's character, Art, has likable moments, but that's the most good I can say about him. Tashi (Zendaya) and Patrick (the opponent) are just the worst. It makes it difficult to root for anyone in this situation, which can be tough in a sports movie.

The film also gets a bit repetitive near the end. At some point, it just becomes a back-and-forth where Zendaya goes from Art to Patrick to Art to Patrick and gets exhausting. The whole tennis metaphor applies to their relationship because she keeps going back and forth, but interest in this dynamic just fades as you get to the end.

This movie also has a lot of sexual stuff. For me personally, it got to be too much. There's not over aggressive nudity or anything like that, but there's just a lot of talk about sex and a lot of awkward sexual jokes that just don't always land. Sometimes it was funny. Sometimes it was too much for me. It won't bother some people that much, but I found it to be slightly annoying.

Final Thoughts and Score

Challengers is an interesting, layered romantic sports film that balances it's three characters nicely, but prepare to be disappointed by the ending.

I will go Savory here. Age range is 16+.


Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)


Fun Factor: 7.5/10

Acting: 8/10

Story: 7.5/10

Characters: 7.5/10

Quality: 8/10

Directed by Luca Guadagnino

Rated R for sexual content, language, disturbing themes and images, thematic elements

Released on April 26, 2024

2 hours and 11 minutes

Zendaya as Tashi Duncan

Mike Faist as Art Donaldson

Josh O'Connor as Patrick Zweig


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