I am not sure what is in the water that Hollywood can only seem to make superhero movies and product placement movies. But I will be honest. Tetris, among others, is exactly the kind of movie I am primed to really like. Unsurprisingly, I did!
After the critical and commercial acclaim received by The Social Network, Hollywood began trying to find any and every product to make a movie about. McDonald’s? We are calling it The Founder. Apple? We are calling it Steve Jobs. Tetris? Well… not all of them can have unique names!
A Reliable Egerton
Taron Egerton plays Henk Rogers. (Yes, that is how his name is spelled. Unfortunately.) When Henk comes across a game of Tetris, he decides that he will stop at nothing to bring the game to America. He quickly learns that with the game being owned by the USSR, it will not be as easy of a feat as he once believed it would be.
Tetris is one of those unbelievable true stories that has you questioning what’s real and what’s not. How could a game so simple and so – for lack of a better term – childish, be the source of such intercultural conflict? As the story unfolds, it is easy to realize that it is so much more than the game. Because of the time and resources used to create the game, and the country he lives in, Alexey Pajitnov finds that the game is not his to sell. The two men get embroiled in a plot to bring the game to the globe.
Egerton continues to prove his reliability as a dramatic actor. After coming into prominence with the Kingsman franchise, he has shown versatility as Elton John in Rocketman and in the AppleTV+ show, Black Bird. Here, Egerton showcases a kind of manic desperation to get a win. When we meet Henk, he is down on his luck, trying to sell a failure of a product. It is not long before he witnesses someone playing Tetris at a convention in Las Vegas. We see the potential in him, as a businessman, just as he sees the potential in Tetris as his product.
A True(?) Story
The story that follows is an interesting one with a lot of twists and turns that I was not expecting. For how simple the game is, I anticipated Tetris to be more of the same. I was assuming it would be a by-the-numbers, “this is how this product got made” sort of movie. But it was much more gripping than that. With spies, lies, and allies at every corner, it is hard to know who and what to trust. I was often questioning, “is this worth it? For Tetris?” But what makes the movie work is that Henk never had that question in his mind. He knew the answer was yes.
While it is not the best of its kind from the year so far – next week’s Air takes that title – it is certainly an enjoyable watch. It can be a bit bogged down with some of the murky cinematography, but it also makes sense with the setting. With the kind of story that leaves you hanging on every word and with a cast that has you convinced they are going to get rich off of this game, it is hard not to feel invested in the outcome despite that. I am still not fully sure that Tetris was worth the hassle, but I had a fun time being convinced of it.