Eppler: 'Pawn Sacrifice' a gripping sports movie

Eppler: 'Pawn Sacrifice' a gripping sports movie

Pawn Sacrifice Pawn Sacrifice

"Pawn Sacrifice" is the story of Chess Champion Bobby Fischer, and his quest to beat the Russians - the best players in the world. But there's a bigger picture. Fischer becomes a reluctant Cold War media symbol for the US - a pawn, if you will, in a bigger political game.

Toby Maguire is outstanding as Fischer, whose genius is hampered by his increasing mental illness. A mind that must see every possibility in the game becomes the catalyst for paranoia and delusions.

While Maguire certainly has the flashiest performance, I absolutely love the understated performances surrounding him, starting with the always reliable Peter Sarsgaard as a priest and former Chess player serving as Fischer's number two. Michael Stuhlbarg is excellent as Bobby's manager who may also have some high-up connections in DC. And Liev Schreiber, so good in Showtime's "Ray Donovan," is Russian Chess champ Boris Spassky, who shares a similar obsession as Fischer, and possibly a like-minded paranoia.

Director Ed Zwick deserves a lot of credit for making a board game intense and gripping. 

This is a sports movie and it goes through many of those motions, bordering on cliche.  But the added psychological elements and political intrigue make "Pawn Sacrifice" something more.

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