Pawn Sacrifice

7.01 h 55 min2015X-RayPG-13
In a gripping true story, American chess prodigy Bobby Fischer finds himself caught between two superpowers and his own struggles as he challenges the Soviet Empire.
Edward Zwick
Tobey MaguirePeter SarsgaardLiev Schreiber
English [CC]
Audio languages
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Supporting actors
Michael StuhlbargLily RabeRobin Weigert
Gail KatzTobey MaguireEdward Zwick
Bleecker Street
PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Content advisory
Alcohol usefoul languagesexual contentsmokingviolence
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4.3 out of 5 stars

1388 global ratings

  1. 59% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 24% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 11% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Alex C.Reviewed in the United States on December 9, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Could have been great..
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It really could have, but they messed up the portrail of Fisher, they demonized him too much, made him sadistic and crazy "all the time" and that is where the movie felt apart. If you watch many of the real interviews which they showed in the movie (half real, the other part played by the actor) you will see that the real Bobby was a lot more "normal", liked to have fun and enjoyed himself with reporters and interviewers like Dick Cavett, he was not always at odds with them. By making him a constant basket case they robbed the audience and his memory of a reality which was a lot more multidimensional and colorful in personality then the one dimensional John McEnroe of Chess cheap route they choose to go with. By the way, the Russians 'were' bugging phone and spying not only on him but even their own people, and they did'"cheat" manipulating points stacking at tournaments and discussing games among st themselves which they were not supposed to do. the movie "Queen Sacrifice" which is a take off on a female Bobby Fisher did this facts and the character more justice. Bobby was 'not' crazy about that, just very aware of it.
37 people found this helpful
Alan K. SumrallReviewed in the United States on December 6, 2020
2.0 out of 5 stars
Great cast, good production values. Terrible Anti-hero Subject
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Great cast but a lousy Anti-hero Subject which made for an unpopular process film. They should have gone another direction with this subject, maybe taken it from an outsiders view rather than dig into Bobby Fischers wierdness. I would have gone with Spassky, he is actually a more likable figure than Fischer who is just, well, not the kind of guy you would want to hang out with EVER. He was a Nightmare to his handlers. He popularized chess, and that is to his credit, but unfortunately this film showed us how the sausage was made and it was too yucky dealing with Fischers tormented mind. Cast was great. Toby McGuire was spot on as were the supporting cast....Frankly I could not finish the film, because I just wanted to shoot Toby's Fischer and put him out of my misery, I mean, I knew the ending anyways. A process film has to make the process palatable to make money.
5 people found this helpful
Karl WeaverReviewed in the United States on January 15, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
Fascinating, And True
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Pawn Sacrifice Universal Studios 2015 PG-13 DVD version

It’s amazing how much drama can be packed into a story from 1972, the outcome of which is already known. This small-scale piece is the story of Bobby Fischer, the American chess genius who became the world champion in 1972 after beating the reigning champion Boris Spassky in a 24-match tournament in Reykjavik Iceland. That was the peak of his career and in 1972, suddenly Americans were all talking about a chess tournament in a foreign country. American kids were learning to play chess as avidly as they learned baseball. And in an era of continuing cold-war tensions and a time when all of the best players in the world were Russian, suddenly Americans felt they had a hero in Bobby Fischer.

I knew that Fischer was mentally ill and increasingly reclusive after his victory, but didn’t know the specifics of his life. His mother was Jewish and attended medical school in Russia. Although she fled Russia when Stalin turned anti-Semitic, she seems to have maintained a communist or at least socialist political activism. As Bobby became gradually more paranoid, he ranted against Russia and communism while his mother still spoke Russian and was monitored by the FBI. He railed against Jews, ignoring his own Jewish ancestry. But he had sheer genius for chess. He is still considered by many as the greatest [human] chess player in history.

I wasn’t that familiar with Tobey Maguire, who plays the part of Bobby Fischer. It seems there’s at least a casual resemblance of his physique and the real Bobby Fischer. The best-known performer in the film is Liev Schreiber who plays the part of Boris Spassky.
The climax of the movie, naturally enough, is the tournament in Reykjavic. By then any viewer who has watched this long is totally drawn in. One hardly knows who to root for: the reigning champion Spassky, quietly cynical about his own government and his “handlers”, balanced in personality, decent, conventional. Or the brash, intemperate, brilliant, paranoid young man from Brooklyn, prone to bouts of screaming and completely unreasonable demands. Their chess skills seemed almost equal and each had his own psychological strengths and weaknesses. Spassky had many years of playing at international grandmaster level. He was used to a world that must have been rather intimidating to Fischer. On the other hand Fischer’s unpredictability, both on and off the board, may have rattled Spassky’s nerves. And there was no denying his genius.

Even today some experts cite game 6 of the Fischer-Spassky tournament as the greatest chess game ever played [at least between 2 human players!]. The movie depicts the losing Spassky as actually standing up and applauding Fischer, followed by the entire audience. Apparently this was true, and was unheard-of in the quiet but fiercely competitive tournament chess world.

There are some bonus features on the DVD. This film is both engaging and educational. Definitely worth watching. Great acting and a gripping true story.
25 people found this helpful
Mike PowersReviewed in the United States on January 18, 2016
5.0 out of 5 stars
"Pawn Sacrifice:" probably the best chess movie I've seen in a very long time.
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Being an ardent fan of chess, I always like it when a movie is made with the “ancient and venerable game” at its center. When I saw that the film “Pawn Sacrifice” was available on Amazon Video, I knew it was one I would add to my collection.

Directed by Edward Zwick, “Pawn Sacrifice” stars Toby Maguire as Bobby Fischer, Liev Schrieber as Boris Spassky, and Peter Sarsgaard and Michael Stuhlbarg and Fischer’s mentors, Father Bill Lombardy and Paul Marshall. The film tells the story of Bobby Fischer, the erratic American chess genius who became World Chess Champion in 1972. He did this by defeating the reigning world champion, Boris Spassky, in Reykjavik, Iceland, in one of the most highly anticipated and publicized chess tournaments in history.

Although “Pawn Sacrifice” focuses on this famous chess match and the events leading up to it, it’s actually less a film about chess than it is about Bobby Fischer the man. Toby Maguire gives the performance of his career as the deeply disturbed chess genius whose rampant paranoia causes him to believe that his phones are all tapped, all Russian chess opponents are conspiring to cheat him, and his mother, sister, and two devoted mentors are all out to “get” him. Fischer’s well-known anti-Semitism is clearly addressed in the film as part of his paranoia.

I thught Liev Schrieber (“Ray Donovan”) was particularly well cast as the stoic Boris Spassky. Sarsgaard (“Black Mass,” “The Killing”) and Stuhlbarg (“Boardwalk Empire,” “Lincoln”) were also very effective in their roles.

Although “Pawn Sacrifice” is about chess, it is neither boring nor slow-moving. It is an intense and taut drama, and a realistic portrayal of Bobby Fischer, and probably the best chess movie I’ve seen in a very long time. Highly recommended.
18 people found this helpful
A. Nieves Jr.Reviewed in the United States on February 20, 2021
4.0 out of 5 stars
How about a friendly game of chess?
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This movie at its core is a "depiction" of what happened during the events of the first USA Chess World Champion. At first it seems to be about the characters story but as the movie progresses the viewer see's it's real intention.

Based off real events, the movie tends to show the arrogance and ego of said characters, all the while trying to win the hearts over.

A lot to be seen here in the flick, starting with the public view of Chess in the times of that era. The underlying tones of what kind of impact this series of events had on the world is what shines throughout the movie.

A good movie with well suited actors. The movie tends to progress a lot between its elements but in the end leaves its viewers with questions on how much of what was viewed was real and how much was just good writing.

To watch this movie, one has to be ok with understand that mental health in all Master of Craft, have a significant impacted on the world around them, and vice versa.

Ignorance is bliss, foresight is perilous.

+ Father Lombardy
+ Pacing
+ Depiction of emotions

- Paul
- Camera angles
- Vibration of the Camera Equipment
One person found this helpful
Glama PussReviewed in the United States on November 11, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
Off on many points, one of which is...
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that Bobby and Spassky were friends. Fischer had an outgoing personality, a good sense of humor and was not constantly paranoid tho he certainly had reason to be. He visited an ignored chess champion who was also a friend in hospital, won all his matches (not games) after the age of 23. He and the Russian players were watched during the Cold War and likely ever since, does the FBI have a dossier on YOU? Probably. Bobby tried to further unite the world with chess but POTUS GW Bush was not having it and continued spying on Bobby. I also think that tho well-acted Jake Gyllenhaal would have made a better choice to play Fischer than McGuire, as JH looks more like BF and is certainly just as good of an actor. McGuire seems too weak in this film to play a very strong-minded, willful young man. Even tho he later died of kidney disease, Bobby took great care of his physical body and imho was prolly 'taken out' by the CIA or some alphabet agency to ensure that he not speak about anything political...ever...again. Recommend.
Barry W. BowmanReviewed in the United States on December 7, 2021
5.0 out of 5 stars
The sad but true story of Bobby Fischer
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I grew up during the 1960s and1970s, when Bobby Fischer's star was rising. You wouldn't expect a story about a chess player to be fascinating and even exciting, but this film was both. Toby Maguire should have won an Oscar for this role (but let's be realistic -- a movie about a chess champion ain't gonna win the Oscar). His acting is intense, and he loses himself in the role. He becomes Bobby Fischer. Liev Schreiver also should have gotten a nod as best supporting actor; he plays Boris Spassky, Fischer's Russian opponent, with narcissistic swagger and Russian nationalistic bluster. The sad part of the movie is Bobby's descent into mental illness. His extreme paranoia could have been diagnosed and treated today, but that wasn't the case in the 1970s. After the match depicted in the movie, Bobby's bright light flickered and then went out entirely; he died in obscurity in Iceland in 2008. If you're into chess or the Cold War at all, you need to watch this film.
Catherine MaryReviewed in the United States on February 22, 2016
3.0 out of 5 stars
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This disc is blank. I've tried to contact customer service to replace it but I can't find a way to do that. My printer is no longer compatible with my computer so I can't print a label. Now What?


REVIEW: If I had not been 24 years old when this World Chess Championship was played, and if I had not seen "Bobby Fischer Against the World" documentary (available on Amazon), I might have liked this movie more. If you don't know anything about it, you may like it a lot.

First, Tobey Maquire does not have the acting ability to portray the intensity of Bobby Fischer at any age. He doesn't get the intensity of the paranoia and fear Fischer had, or the director did not guide him well. Maquire is a good actor, but in my opinion, not in this movie.

Liev Schreiber was more on the mark as Boris Spaasky, showing the cockiness and belief that no one, especially a young American, could beat him. You could see his face change as he played Fischer, especially (SPOILER ALERT) when he began to smile, and continued into a smile of respect and joy at Fischer's move that beat him. The applause from Spaasky and the crowd really happened. Fischer was a brilliant chess player.

It was also important to show Fischer's decent into madness starting long before this match. There were 24 games scheduled, and they were more important than seeing the young Bobby Fischer watch his mother parading men in and out of her bedroom.

This could have been such a good movie. It wasn't.

3 stars for Liev Schreiber's performance, and for the priest who drank and smoked and prayed the rosary trying to help Bobby Fischer.
One person found this helpful
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