Movie Review: Tetris

Based solely on the recommendation of my agent, Tetris (now streaming on Apple TV+) skyrocketed to the top of my “Movies I Want to Watch” list. He said it was one of the best movies he’d seen in a good while, and he watches a lot of movies. (This is coming from me, who most people think watches more than my fair share.) On paper, the movie just shouldn’t be very good. I mean, it’s about the origins of Tetris, of all things. How thrilling can something like that be?

The answer? Very.

Succinctly put, it focuses on the mad rush to get the rights to Tetris, a game that was made deep in the heart of the USSR, unknown to the rest of the world for a while. But as soon as Westerners knew about it, they very much wanted to make money on it. But how do you get rights to something from a country that really doesn’t like you, where the owners of those rights don’t really own them?

It’s a tangled web that only gets worse once people start lying about actually having the rights, and selling those imagined rights to people. Everything combines in a really wonderful way.

For one thing, it happens right at the end of the Cold War, and it’s chock full of espionage tropes. But not espionage by action espions. No, this is espionage by people who have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. It’s not played for laughs, though. The main character has his whole life riding on getting the rights to Tetris, and so he’s willing to do just about anything to see it through.

Add backroom business shenanigans, fish out of water tropes, family pressure, great 80s theming, a topic that’s near and dear to my heart, and a killer soundtrack?

You’ve got yourself a 10/10 movie.

The movie it reminded me most of was actually Argo, and that’s high praise. It was just so much fun to watch these people deal with the challenges in front of them, flailing around as best they can because so much is riding on it. It’s even more enthralling when you read over the real story of what happened and realize just how much of the movie is accurate.

It’s rated R for some language, but it really is fantastic, and I highly recommend it. I’d say it’s worth a month subscription to Apple TV+ (especially since Ted Lasso Season 3 is being released right now. What a deal!)


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