Tetris – Film Review

Director: Jon S. Baird

Writer: Noah Pink

Starring: Taron Egerton, Toby Jones, Nikita Yefremov, Roger Allam, Anthony Boyle

Rating: ★★★½ 

You wouldn’t expect a film about the origins of the video game Tetris to be a Cold War thriller, but that’s exactly what Tetris is. Taron Egerton stars as Henk Rogers, the founder of Bullet-Proof software who brought Tetris to the world, in a story where there are surprising similarities with the 2020 film The Courier starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

Taron Egerton is absolutely brilliant in the leading role, as he is in everything film he’s in. He’s completely believable as Rogers, being charming and likable straight away. He’s so good in the role that you forget everything else you’ve seen him in and are completely invested in his story. It’s easy to believe that he would be able to travel to the Soviet Union and while avoiding the dangers of the KGB, manage to broker a deal to get the rights to Tetris for Nintendo.

Even though it’s about a video game, this is a thriller through and through. Some of the tensest scenes are when Henk is travelling through Moscow, the KGB always following him, taking photos and trying to intimidate him to leave the country. There’s a great sequence where Rogers is in one room, and others trying to get the rights are in others, with Nikolai Belikov (Oleg Stefan) moving between the rooms, playing them off each other. It almost feels like they’re being interrogated rather than trying to licence a game. 

As you’d expect from a film based on the story of a game, there’s some stylish flair to how the story is presented. The film is broken into chapters, called ‘levels’, which have an 8-bit title screen, likewise when the scene changes the next scene often starts with a pixelated building to set the scene. The music from the Tetris game also appears throughout blended perfectly into a score from Lorne Balfe. It’s a nice touch, that makes everything feel playful. 

While the film is based on a true story, there’s some places where you know it’s completely made up. There’s a car chase to the airport that just straight up didn’t happen and other events are exaggerated to build more tension. We all know when going into any film that’s telling a ‘true story’, that there’s going to be some dramatic licence to make it more engaging, so that’s not a surprise. The main part of the story is still true, so you do still feel like you’re learning. There’s plenty of articles available online so you can read what actually happened.

As a Cold War thriller, Tetris is surprisingly great. It’s an interesting and engaging story that shines a light on one of the stranger moments of video game history, even if some of it is made up.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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3 Responses to Tetris – Film Review

  1. Tony Briley says:

    My wife and I ended up watching this last night before I was able to read your review, which if I was to write my own would be almost identical. It was a fun movie, intense, and the made up parts (most of which were obvious) added to the excitement without making it ridiculous. I love engaging movies like this, such as The Founder, which I also highly recommend. It is just amazing some of the insane things that occurred for us to sit down to play a game or eat a hamburger.

    Liked by 1 person

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