Bobby Fischer was the Muhammed Ali of the chess-playing set. He bragged loudly about being unbeatable, and in most cases, proved it. Fischer was also a bit of a loose cannon and his loose cannonism — is that a word? — is a big part of the biopic Pawn Sacrifice. Fischer’s story goes from childhood to when he took on Russian Boris Spassky for the world chess championship in Reykjavik, Iceland, in July and August 1972.
Tobey Maguire dips into director Edward Zwick’s (Love & Other Drugs) movie and writer Steven Knight’s most excellent script with gusto. He has a blast as the predictably unpredictable Fischer. Maguire is surrounded by an equally talented supporting cast. Liev Schreiber patiently plays the impossible to perturb Boris Spassky. Peter Sarsgaard and Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man) are his handlers.
Remember, this was 1972 and the height of the Cold War. The U.S. government felt it critical that Fischer trounce Spassky, which he did. And how he did it checkmates most of the lesser films dotting local theater screens.
Director: Edward Zwick
Stars: Tobey Maguire, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, Michael Stuhlbarg
Mr. Movie rating: 5 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes. It’s playing at the Carmike 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it’s your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on DVD.
2 stars to 1 star: Don’t bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.