“Tetris” tells the unbelievable story of how one of the world’s most popular video games found its way to avid players around the globe. Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton) discovers TETRIS in 1988, and then risks everything by traveling to the Soviet Union, where he joins forces with inventor Alexey Pajitnov (Nikita Efremov) to bring the game to the masses. Based on a true story, “Tetris” is a Cold War–era thriller on steroids, with double-crossing villains, unlikely heroes and a nail-biting race to the finish.
What We Thought:
Tetris is not at all what I was expecting and that is a good thing. The idea of a movie about the video game Tetris sounds weird until you watch it and see just what was involved in helping the game become one of the best selling games of all-time. Just like when we heard they were making a movie about Facebook and the resulting film ended up being the incredible The Social Network, a movie about Tetris ended up being way more exciting than it has any right being.
First of all, Taron Egerton is a fantastic actor. He’s one of the best under 35 actors going and he’s very good here. You 100% root for him to get the rights to Tetris while fighting with the Soviets, the billionaire Brits and trying to be a family man. Egerton is very easy to watch and brings life to a character that could have very easily been one dimensional. After all, he’s really just a glorified salesman trying to win over people to get the rights and make himself money. But Egerton is charming and you want him to succeed.
I mention the Soviets because that’s what separates this film from being just a movie about a video game. The film takes place in the late 1980s Cold War Era when the Soviets never licensed things outside the Soviet Union and all proceeds went to Mother Russia. Some in charge knew times were changing and wanted something for themselves while others, especially with ties to the KGB, still wanted full control over all things Soviet. It’s that espionage dynamic that makes the film an interesting watch.
I knew a little about the backstory with the game, but the movie shows so many layers. The creator of Tetris was just a worker who wouldn’t profit off it until he defected to the US. A billionaire media corporation thought they had licensing for it and was already making money off it outside of the Soviet Union. Egerton’s character wanted the handheld rights so Nintendo’s new gaming system, the Game Boy, could launch with Tetris in it. People wanted a piece and the Soviets wanted all of it for themselves. There is backstabbing, blackmailing, bribing and everything in between all over a game of straight pieces and blocks. Pretty fascinating.
Tetris is a nice surprise. Egerton is always good and the music and fashion of the time period is great. It is way more interesting than you think it will be and I had a good time watching it. Even if you’ve never played the game, you’ll dig this Soviet-era, spy-type thriller.