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Pawn Sacrifice

2015-10-09 09:02

What it's about:

During the height of the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers when he challenges the Soviet Empire. Fischer struggles with genius and madness, rising and falling as a kid from Brooklyn who captured the imagination of the world.

What we thought:

The worst thing about Pawn Sacrifice is its title. Try telling your mom over the phone that you just watched a movie called Pawn Sacrifice – disturbing images of pornographic and satanic rituals undoubtedly flash through both of your minds.

Once you get over the very unfortunate name of this biographical drama the story that unfolds is fascinating to watch and strangely bizarre at the same time.

Set during the Cold War, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer (Toby McGuire) finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.

Long gone are the Spider-Man days yet you can’t help but think that McGuire will at any moment reveal his true superhero identity. Instead he serves up one of the most unlikable protagonists the big screen has seen in a while.

Moody, demanding, anti-social and bat-shit crazy. How do you cheer for a character that you don’t like? Especially when the film’s tension balances delicately on the result of one of the most historic chess games ever played. Simply put it’s difficult to root for a guy you wish wouldn’t win.

Bobby was a rock star-like icon in some bizarre universe where being a chess player was equal to being a Beatle. Wherever this chess player went – crowds followed and media bowed at his feet.

Along with being world famous comes the celebrity sense of entitlement combined with a lethal dose of self-importance and a pretty huge ego.

The film bordered on the ridiculous suggesting that a chess game, game six to be exact – reportedly the best chess game ever played, could somehow be equivalent to World War III.

Apparently even Nixon wanted in on the action and had a TV installed in the Oval Office just so he could watch a live broadcast of a chess game between Bobby and Soviet chess grandmaster, Boris Spassky (Liev Schreiber).

Ultimately Bobby was a victim of his own genius which sadly left him on the outskirts of society pushed into isolation because he simply couldn’t cope with the mundane.

Pawn Sacrifice tries hard to paint Bobby as the bad boy of chess but falls short of achieving just that. Although brilliantly put together this true-life tale lacks the sex, drugs and rock-roll that it was alluding to. A slow and predictable start quickly gets a lot more interesting after a few unexpected moves that save this movie from disappearing into the abyss of boring dramas.

Read more on:    peter sarsgaard  |  tobey maguire  |  movies

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