Writer: Steven Knight (Screenplay) Stephen J Rivele, Christopher Wilkinson, Steven Knight (Story)
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, Michael Stuhlbarg, Peter Sarsgaard, Lily Rabe, Edward Zinoviev, Alexandre Gorchkov
Plot: Set during the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.
Tagline – In 1972, Bobby Fischer faced the Soviet Union in the greatest chess match ever played. On the board he fought the Cold War. In his mind he fought his madness.
Runtime: 1 Hour 55 Minutes
There may be spoilers in the rest of the review
Verdict: Chess Made Interesting
Story: Pawn Sacrifice starts as a young Bobby Fischer grows up learning chess, his reputation grows and before long he becomes the champion of America. Not happy with just winning in America Bobby (Maguire) wants to become the youngest world champion and take on the Russian players with the world champion Boris Spassky (Schreiber).
After learning how the Russians play, Bobby storms out of the game, knowing he wouldn’t get a chance to win, Paul Marshall (Stuhlbarg) and priest Father Bill Lombardy (Sarsgaard) agree to work with Bobby to put his name back on the map, to one get the showdown with the champion Boris.
Thoughts on Pawn Sacrifice
Characters – Bobby Fischer is an American chess prodigy, he has proven himself in America and wants to conquer the world, it doesn’t take long before he starts learning about the corruption within the game, which will hold him back, he does make himself difficult to work with, always believing he is being bugged by the Russians, storming out at certain moments, his determination to have thing done a certain done the right way, does make things more complicated for his future in the sport. It is clear that Bobby is dealing with a lot of mental issues, which don’t get dealt with properly. Boris Spassky is the Russian Grand Master, current World Champion, that like Bobby is being controlled by his handlers, he just wants to prove himself against the best, which means facing Bobby in whichever style of game possible. Paul Marshall is the man that brings Bobby back to the game, he becomes his manager, making thing happen for the player, however difficult Bobby is to work with.
Performances – Tobey Maguire is wonderful in the leading role, this is one of the movies which does seem to be one of the finally screen appearances in years, which is a shame because of how talented he is. Liev Schreiber is great to watch as the rival chess player, with the fellow supporting cast, Michael Stuhlbarg and Peter Sarsgaard both giving strong performances.
Story – The story here follows the rise of chess genius Bobby Fischer as he deals with his own mental health when trying to break down the Russian dominance in the world of chess to become the new world champion. This is an interesting story because it does show how conflicted Bobby was when it came to the game of chess, he did want to become champion, but being in the middle of the cold war, only built up the tension between the nations playing the game too. If we were going to look to learn the full Bobby Fischer story, we will be left disappointed because his life because even more fascinating after the big championship match.
Biopic – The biopic side of this film only shows the build up to the big championship match, where the two heavyweights will come to face each other, instead of the more interesting later steps of his life.
Settings – The film does show us just how many different locations that could be bugged that would cause the problems for Bobby.
Scene of the Movie – The chess matches.
That Moment That Annoyed Me – We could learn so much more about Bobby’s life after this big match.
Final Thoughts – This is an enjoyable thriller about chess, who would have thought of this beforehand. Tobey Maguire is great to watch through the film.
Overall: Interesting Chess Thriller.