A well-crafted biopic about one of the greatest matches in history. A career-defining performance by Tobey Maguire. Who knew that a movie about a game of chess could be so suspenseful and riveting. You won't be able to take your eyes off of it.
Director Ed Zwick is the man who gave us "Glory," "The Last Samurai," "Defiance," basically movies that have epic battlefield sequences, so it's interesting that his battlefield has been scaled down to the size of a chessboard but it's just as colossal, this is a story back in the era when the whole world was watching which of the two ideologies, United States or the Soviets would ultimately win, tension was running high but instead of bullets or nuclear weapons which both regions did have, it all came down to between Bobby Fischer (Tobey Maguire) and Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber) and even if the movie may or may not want to preach about which is the ultimate victor, it did capture the animosity in the air, so sharp it can cut through glass, the hatred against communism at the time.
Written by Steven Knight, who gave us "Eastern Promises," and "Locke," I think Knight gives in to Hollywood's long-held fascination with brilliance and madness, it's a lot like "A Beautiful Mind," where a person is so brilliant that his mind just snaps. Now, I didn't grow up knowing a lot about Bobby Fischer, my dad taught me how to play chess when I was a kid, but I was terrible at it, which is why I turned to soccer. My point is, I don't know how out of touch Fischer really was, and this movie itself is not a straight adaptation, but I think PAWN SACRIFICE accomplishes what it set out to do from the start, this correlation between genius and paranoia or insanity.
Mad props to actors Tobey Maguire and Liev Schreiber who, under the direction of Ed Zwick, successfully manage to dramatize the game of chess. Because chess matches are usually silent, so everything heavily relies on the actors' facial expressions, it's all in the eyes and the body language in order to understand the game's intensity. The movie has to also entertain those who may not play chess and so it does, and it's a testament to the amazing performances by Maguire and Schreiber.The movie also brings up a good point that I think would leave the audiences conflicted. Because we would feel like Bobby Fischer would need medical treatment, but a part of us also don't want to hinder or get in the way of brilliance, out of selfish reasons of course, because we would want that brilliance to work in our favor. We badly want to see the master play but at what cost.
34 of 58 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?