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‘Tetris’ Delivers a Surprisingly Fun Origin Story (Review)

With ‘Tetris,’ Scottish director Jon S. Baird (‘Filth’) takes on the origin story of one of the most addictive video games ever created.

Is it the whole truth and nothing but the truth? Of course not. But it is a surprisingly fun film with a standout performance from Taron Egerton who plays Henk Rogers, the man who helped spread a small Russian-created game around the world.

The movie begins with a flat-footed batch of exposition to lay out the story, but it finds its way as we go along. The game Henk designed and is exhibiting at the Consumer Electronics Show is a dud, but after playing Tetris at another CES booth, he sees his ticket to success.

His plan slowly begins to take hold from there. All he has to do is buy the global distribution rights from the game’s creator, Alexey Pajitnov (Nikita Yefremov) and partner with Nintendo to get rich quick! If only it were that easy.

There is something about Henk’s obsession with this game that is simultaneously inspiring and maddening. Despite a million roadblocks and putting himself in great personal danger, he never loses faith in what the end goal could be.

Nikita Efremov and Taron Egerton in “Tetris,” premiering March 31, 2023 on Apple TV+.

The Verdict

Leaning heavily on Cold War-era intimidation tactics, we follow Henk’s journey into Russia as he attempts to secure the distribution rights to the game from a Communist government completely uninterested in helping a capitalist in any way shape or form.

We get a lot of car chases, inept KGB agents, and even Mikhail Gorbachev at one point. The film is undoubtedly more over-the-top and borderline cartoon-like than the real events, but Egerton is so engaging that you won’t care.

Baird has said in interviews that his North Star inspiration was Ben Affleck’s ‘Argo’ and I think when you consider it in that context, it makes perfect sense.

With a story like this where you already know the hero succeeds, you just have to buckle in and enjoy the ride. Is ‘Tetris’ a great movie? No, it probably is not. Is it one hell of a fun nostalgia-packed thriller? Yes, it absolutely is. Packed with great retro tunes, including some fun Japanese and Russian cover versions of “Holding Out For A Hero,” I enjoyed ‘Tetris’ far more than I ever expected.


How to Watch ‘Tetris’

‘Tetris’ premieres today on AppleTV+, while continuing to play in select theaters nationwide.

Looking for more movie recommendations? Check out our March streaming preview!

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