Pawn Sacrifice

"An enthralling piece 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." - Richard Roeper

"The challenge of 'Pawn Sacrifice' was to capture the colorful Cold War ’70s, the inner strategies of one man’s paranoid mind and make chess cinematic.

"Check, and mate.

"Tobey Maguire stars as Bobby Fischer, the Chicago-born, Brooklyn-raised chess prodigy. His passion for the game led to his becoming, as a teen, the youngest grandmaster to that time.

"In the mid-’60s, Fischer is obsessed with defeating the Russians, who see their chess mastery as evidence of their intellectual superiority over the West. He’s recruited to do that by a shadowy government lawyer (Michael Stuhlbarg) and a chess opponent-turned-confidante, Father Bill Lombardy (Peter Sarsgaard).

"Upon confronting Soviet champ Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) in Reykjavik, Iceland, Fischer’s delusions make him belligerent and nutsy-suspicious. He freaks out. He tears apart his hotel phones because 'they’re bugged,' demands another room and shouts that whirring TV cameras ruin his concentration. Spassky, with his own chess-related quirks, quietly plans his moves.

"Director Edward Zwick does a great job recreating the 1972 Fischer-Spassky battle — 'World War III on a chessboard,' it was called — with its attendant cultural weight. Even better is the script by the aptly named Steven Knight ('Locke,' 'Eastern Promises'). The focal point of Fischer’s fear of Russians and Jews is set on his mother (Robin Weigert), who was Russian, Jewish, an absentee parent and a Communist who gifted her government conspiracies to her young son.

"Maguire’s portrayal of Fischer’s volatility, disconnect and inner demons is gripping. Schreiber hardly says anything, yet he’s gloweringly good.

"The overall intelligence and strategy of the story is occasionally disturbed by moments of obvious movie bluster or emotional trickery. But that’s easy to forgive. This is not a film that’s out to rook you."

- Joe Neumeier - New York Daily News


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