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Pawn Sacrifice

7.01 h 55 min201512
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.
Edward Zwick
Tobey MaguireLiev SchreiberPeter Sarsgaard
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Supporting actors
Michael Stuhlbarg
Entertainment One
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Prime Video (streaming online video)
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4.2 out of 5 stars

342 global ratings

  1. 54% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 27% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 12% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 3% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 4% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United Kingdom

Quinn AgathoniReviewed in the United Kingdom on 13 August 2017
3.0 out of 5 stars
A good film that could have been even better.
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The match was played when I was twelve and already fascinated by chess so I remember it well. The film works very well to the point where, while watching, I am rooting for Bobby Fischer even though, as a child, I rooted for Spassky, mainly because of the way lazy journalists portrayed the match as the cold war being fought in Reykjavik by chessplayers. I enjoyed Toby Maguire's performance as Fischer but was less impressed by the script.

I'd love to see a film made about Fischer that concentrated on his mental deterioration rather than building up to the 1972 match, and indeed the sixth game where Fischer played the Queen's Gambit for the first time in his life. Fischer lived another 36 years after that match and this was glossed over in the film.

It's too easy to describe Fischer as an obnoxious character rather than as someone with a serious mental health condition. His illness makes Fischer's achievements over a chessboard all the more remarkable.

The film is enjoyable and worth watching, but I believe it could have been done so much better.
14 people found this helpful
Silly The KidReviewed in the United Kingdom on 15 December 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
It's not always black and white (lol)
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What use is winning, if it costs one man his mental health?" I'm sure this phrase or one like it was coined for the sake of this movie. It features Toby McGuire as real life Chess Champion Bobby Fischer, who was once the greatest player in the world but sadly let the pressure of the game and the attention bestowed upon him slowly drive him to the brink of insanity. He's not the only one though: as we see from the irrational behaviour of his Russian Grandmaster final opponent later on, the rigours of such a complicated strategic game can affect anyone, if they let it take over their existence to the extent as shown here.

You don't have to appreciate the finer points of chess to derive enjoyment from Pawn Sacrifice. It would probably help, but the themes of Cold War anxiety and obsessively having to be 'the best' are more universal, and should make it appeal to a larger crowd. McGuire proves he can be so much more than just a webslinger, and we feel every inch of his paranoia as the film goes on: his character shuts himself off from the world, always thinks he's being watched, refuses to eat food unless it's prepared in front of him... one of the earliest 'conspiracy theorists', perhaps?

Anyone familiar with the real-life story knows that this movie can't have a happy ending, as the final text during the episode so bluntly demonstrates. All the cheering from Fischer's family and adoring crowds won't change a thing to what occurred after his triumph, and we're left with the stark question: was it all worth it?

In this viewers opinion, no. 7/10
4 people found this helpful
John RichardsonReviewed in the United Kingdom on 26 May 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
A near-masterpiece
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Another near-masterpiece by Edward Zwick; one of the greatest directors of our era. Quite small in scope, but so beautifully observed, with pitch-perfect performances, great casting and a suitably messed up script to reflect the workings of Fischer's mind. Really well done. My only beef is with Donna's sub-plot; it feels as if this whole thread exists solely for the cheap-shot tacky pay-off in the third act. Excising this material would have helped the film's pacing issues and improved the whole. I expect better from Mr Zwick, but this is definitely worth a watch.
One person found this helpful
millywhizReviewed in the United Kingdom on 18 August 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
too much paranoia, not enough chess
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A good film, mainly due to Maguire's acting chops, but it could have been a lot better. They overfocussed on Fischer's paranoia and generally obnoxious behaviour, where I would have liked more to have been made of the inspired chess he played. You don't have to understand chess to enjoy the film but if they'd taken a little trouble, the film could have better conveyed how extraordinary a player he was. Also the backdrop of cold war tension is very background when it could have been a big part of the atmosphere of the film. But despite this, full marks to Tobey Maguire. Just need a better script next time.
5 people found this helpful
Devon MichaelReviewed in the United Kingdom on 07 May 2019
1.0 out of 5 stars
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Really looked forward to getting this. The sale was English audio which was fine for the English speaking Fischer camp but the Boris Spassky camp all spoke Russian so the Dutch or French subtitle option worthless. Felt I was missing great chunks of dialogue and therefore the underlying story. Very disappointing I expected to get the whole story in English audio.
3 people found this helpful
Tom MortleyReviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 August 2017
5.0 out of 5 stars
Brilliant film, well paced
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Brilliant film, well paced, and for someone passionate about the history of the era very exciting. One criticism I do have is in the final credits - the assertion that his mental health continued to decline. To quote the film, treating that would be like pouring concrete down the holy well; I think his psychological profile was beyond the capability of neurotypicals to understand.
3 people found this helpful
Media ScribeReviewed in the United Kingdom on 17 October 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Pawn Sacrifice DVD
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This DVD is for those interested in chess or an insight into Bobby Fischer's exceptional life story. I was surprised that Tobey Maguire was chosen to play the part of Fischer owing to the considerable difference in physical appearance. Nevertheless, Maguire makes a commendable attempt at playing this very difficult persona, managing to portray Fischer's paranoid and erratic behaviour.
Cls14Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 August 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
Even non chess fans will like
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I have absolutely no interest in chess at all and had zero respect for the repellent Bobby Fischer. However this film is very, very easy to watch. Maguire, Schreiber and Sarsgaard play their respective, and very different roles very well. Steven Knights screenplay makes a dull game come to life building up the tension and giving you a real feel of what it was like at the time. The cinematography, set design and costumes added to this effect and were spot on. Surprisingly interesting and took the attention away from the racist madness of the main man.
3 people found this helpful
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