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Pawn Sacrifice

7/10
Drama . Biography . Sport
 

American chess champion Bobby Fischer prepares for a legendary match-up against Russian Boris Spassky.

 
Actors: Tobey Maguire , Lily Rabe , Peter Sarsgaard , Liev Schreiber , Sophie Nélisse , Michael Stuhlbarg , Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick , Conrad Pla , Aiden Lovekamp , Evelyne Brochu
Directors: Edward Zwick
Country: USA , CANADA
Release: 2015-09-16
More Info:
  • Richard Roeper

    Edward Zwick’s Pawn Sacrifice is an enthralling piece of mainstream entertainment that captures the essence of Fischer’s mad genius, perfectly re-creates the tenor of the times AND works as a legit sports movie about the great game of chess.

    Chicago Sun-Times Full Review
  • Tim Appelo

    Pawn Sacrifice is intelligent, absorbing, never boring, and skillfully tense when it should be.

    TheWrap Full Review
  • Calvin Wilson

    Best appreciated as a movie about being obsessed — a character trait that’s certainly not limited to chess masters.

    St. Louis Post-Dispatch Full Review
  • Bill Goodykoontz

    While Zwick doesn’t dig as deeply as he might in searching for answers, the subject matter, combined with Tobey Maguire’s performance as Fischer, makes this a compelling film.

    Arizona Republic Full Review
  • Joe Neumaier

    Maguire’s portrayal of Fischer’s volatility, disconnect and inner demons is gripping. It’s his best performance since “Wonder Boys” (2000). Schreiber hardly says anything, yet he’s gloweringly good. He acts with his jowls and brow and swept-back hair, making the sort-of rock-’n’-roll Spassky a polar opposite, but strategic equal, to Fischer. Saarsgaard is also terrific, lending a quiet air of solemnity and thoughtfulness.

    New York Daily News Full Review
  • Andrew O'Hehir

    Pawn Sacrifice sticks admirably close to the facts of that peculiar historical moment, and features a showboat performance from Tobey Maguire as the increasingly disturbed Fischer, along with a more composed one from Liev Schreiber as the taciturn Spassky.

    Salon.com Full Review
  • Walter Addiego

    A gripping study of Bobby Fischer, perhaps the greatest chess player ever.

    San Francisco Chronicle Full Review
  • Stephanie Merry

    Overall, the movie presents a worthy and historical look at the link between genius and mental illness.

    Washington Post Full Review
  • Peter Travers

    The film offers few answers about Fischer's descent into derangement. But you watch Maguire and slowly, with pity and terror, you understand.

    Rolling Stone Full Review
  • Chris Nashawaty

    The achievement of Edward Zwick’s new Fischer biopic, Pawn Sacrifice, is that it does just that. It manages to turn thinking into action.

    Entertainment Weekly Full Review
  • Oleg Ivanov

    It's best appreciated as a tragicomic profile of a man whose extraordinary talent was undermined by the farcical political reality in which he was enmeshed.

    Slant Magazine Full Review
  • Roger Moore

    As volcanic as Maguire needs to be, it’s those who react to Fischer most tellingly — Sarsgaard’s priest, and Schreiber’s Spassky — that make Pawn Sacrifice the gripping and entertaining history lesson that it is.

    Movie Nation Full Review
  • Kevin Jagernauth

    Pawn Sacrifice certainly whips up a dervish of energy, and as a piece of dramatic entertainment, it's mostly engaging, and features character actors doing very good work.

    The Playlist Full Review
  • Neil Genzlinger

    Ultimately, it is only partly about Bobby Fischer. It is equally about us — Americans or any other nationality inclined to put too much importance on chess matches, soccer matches, space races, whatever. It’s about how we manufacture celebrities on scant pretext and then destroy them, or allow them to destroy themselves while we watch.

    The New York Times Full Review
  • Stephanie Zacharek

    Pawn Sacrifice clicks along with crisp efficiency. Zwick, the director behind movies like Glory and Blood Diamond, is old-school in his attention to craftsmanship, alive to telling details.

    Village Voice Full Review
  • Kenneth Turan

    The film's straight-ahead approach matters less than the complete and utter strangeness of the true story it convincingly tells.

    Los Angeles Times Full Review
  • Jordan Mintzer

    A classically helmed biopic that brings nothing new to the genre, but benefits from handsome craftmanship and solid performances by Tobey Maguire as the Brooklyn boy wonder, and Liev Schreiber as his longtime Russian nemesis, Boris Spassky.

    The Hollywood Reporter Full Review
  • Justin Chang

    Absent the ability to really get the audience’s heads in the game, the film succeeds better at presenting chess as a subtle metaphor for the psychological warfare being waged behind the scenes.

    Variety Full Review
  • Peter Rainer

    Overall this is a film in which, as the end credit documentary footage attests, the real story overwhelms its dramatization.

    Christian Science Monitor Full Review
  • Jeff Baker

    Makes the case that Fischer's chess prowess and his mental illness were inextricable. The chess fed the paranoia which supported the chess which drove Fischer deeper into madness, and so on.

    Portland Oregonian Full Review
  • Jesse Hassenger

    While this movie version of Fischer does indeed suffer from mental health issues that make it difficult for him to form functional human relationships, one of the film’s strongest, most potentially surprising pleasures is the sight of Maguire playing both with and against his usual type.

    The A.V. Club Full Review
  • Gregory Ellwood

    As a biopic for Fischer, Pawn Sacrifice can certainly encourage viewers to research more about him. It’s just unfortunate Zwick couldn’t bring a slightly more understated approach to the entire endeavor.

    Hitfix Full Review
  • Peter Keough

    The movie, though, is not so good. If it came down to acting instead of chess, we might have lost the Cold War.

    Boston Globe Full Review
  • Steve Persall

    Pawn Sacrifice tells a fascinating story in unspectacular fashion, resulting in a draw.

    Tampa Bay Times Full Review
  • David Edelstein

    This is another moderately interesting but shallow biopic with an actor going for broke — to win, not to draw.

    New York Magazine (Vulture) Full Review
  • Godfrey Cheshire

    By this time in his life, Fischer (who was Jewish) was already into the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories that marred his public persona long after his days in the sports limelight had waned. While Zwick and company do nothing to explain this bizarre mania, Pawn Sacrifice definitely conjures the feeling of it, thanks in large part to the movie's greatest asset: Maguire's edgy, charismatic performance.

    RogerEbert.com Full Review
  • Kimberley Jones

    Best yet is Liev Schreiber playing Spassky, big as a Russian bear and as ice-cool as the country’s signature 80-proof spirit. Is it unpatriotic to wish this was his movie, not the twitchy American guy’s?

    Austin Chronicle Full Review
  • Catherine Shoard

    Maguire flails around obligingly, happy to trade amiability for a decent fist at capturing the difficult, prickly Fischer. But he can’t quite carry it off, and the way the script dances around the edge of his illness, exploring the surface symptoms without trying for deeper psychology, leaves the actor exposed.

    The Guardian Full Review
  • Tim Robey

    Maguire tries hard, and has a good stab at Fischer’s twitchy rage, but can’t bring much freshness or specificity to anything else.

    The Telegraph Full Review
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  • chess

  • cold war

  • russia

  • biography

  • victory

  • american

  • paranoia

  • box office flop

  • flashback

  • archive footage

  • paparazzi

  • woman in a bikini

  • swearing priest

  • catholic priest

  • woman smoker

  • cigarette smoking

  • russian jew

  • rec room

  • reference to leonid brezhnev

  • russian abroad

  • motel

  • beach

  • brother sister relationship

  • mother son relationship

  • 1960s

  • singing in a car

  • reference to mike wallace

  • reference to the beatles

  • reference to jimi hendrix

  • reference to the rolling stones

  • reference to henry kissinger

  • reference to richard nixon

  • american abroad

  • in medias res

  • two word title

  • audience

  • chair

  • 1970s

  • politics

  • opening scene repeated later in film

  • iceland

  • russian

  • camera

  • chess prodigy

  • madness

  • chess tournament

  • chess player

  • chess master

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