Movie Reviews
Challengers (2024).

Challengers Review: Game, Set, Match! Zendaya For The Win

From filmmaker Luca Guadagnino, Challengers stars Zendaya as Tashi Duncan, a former tennis prodigy turned coach and a force of nature who makes no apologies for her game on and off the court. Married to a champion on a losing streak (Mike Faist – West Side Story), Tashi’s strategy for her husband’s redemption takes a surprising turn when he must face off against the washed-up Patrick (Josh O’Connor – The Crown) – his former best friend and Tashi’s former boyfriend. As their pasts and presents collide, and tensions run high, Tashi must ask herself, what will it cost to win.

Challengers Trailer:

The Good:

When diving into “Challengers,” the performances immediately steal the spotlight. Mike Faist and Josh O’Connor deliver solid acting. You could easily recognize their exceptional on-screen chemistry. There was never a doubt that the pair were truly the best of friends (even in spite of their issues). The director effectively weaves their friendship’s complexities which allow viewers to really understand the duo’s bond.

With that said, Zendaya is the real gem here. Her performance was probably the most engaging of all. Her character was really intriguing and layered, and Zendaya put it all out on the screen for the audience to dissect. She effortlessly steals every scene, portraying her character with an interesting blend of allure and toxicity. While her portrayal may lean towards the villainous, it adds layers of depth to the story, leaving us constantly questioning her motives.

challengers zendaya

Mike Faist stars as Art and Zendaya as Tashi in director Luca Guadagnino’s
An Amazon MGM Studios film
Photo credit: Niko Tavernise
© 2024 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Another positive for Challengers could be found in the themes beyond the tennis court. Some of them delve into the intricacies of relationships and power dynamics. It cleverly emphasizes the importance of understanding opponents, echoing sentiments often found in anime. The evolution of the characters throughout the film is both fascinating and thought-provoking.

The Bad: 

Challengers comes up short with a few questionable directorial choices. The camerawork during the matches can be disorienting. The constant switching of perspectives between players and the speeding ball disrupts the flow of the action and storytelling at times. Not only was the cinematography a bit questionable, but the score started to become overused and obnoxious as well. There were some great moments during the tennis match when it made sense and worked. Other times, it felt forced and unnecessary.


Mike Faist stars as Art and Josh O’Connor as Patrick in director Luca Guadagnino’s
An Amazon MGM Studios film
Photo credit: Niko Tavernise
© 2024 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Additionally, the film relies heavily on flashbacks. That isn’t a problem, however, the constant jumping back and forth in time does get wearisome. These frequent time jumps are needed to tell the story, but sometimes they hinder the narrative momentum.

The Verdict:

Challengers is a bowl of relationship drama wrapped up in a bow of tennis. It’s a solid film that’s worth the watch, particularly for Zendaya’s standout performance. The captivating performances and thought-provoking themes elevate the experience, despite the occasional editing missteps. While it might not be a must-see film, it offers a compelling exploration of friendships that can get pretty messy.   It’s probably a more ideal choice for a matinee, but perhaps best enjoyed in the comfort of your own home via streaming services.

Challengers Zendaya 2024 Review (2)

Director: Luca Guadagnino
Writers: Justin Kuritzkes
Cast: Zendaya, Mike Faist, Josh O’Connor
Challengers is currently in theaters. Be sure to follow E-Man’s Movie Reviews on Facebook, Subscribe on YouTube, or follow me on Twitter/IG @EmansReviews for even more movie news and reviews!

Challengers Review: Game,Set, Match! Zendaya For The Win
  • Acting - 8/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 6/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 6/10
  • Setting/Theme - 8/10
  • Watchability - 7/10
  • Rewatchability - 7/10
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