(director: Jon S. Baird; screenwriter: Noah Pink; cinematographer: Alwin Kuchler; editors: Ben Mills/Martin Walsh; music: Lorne Balfe; cast: Taron Egerton (Henk Rogers), Ayana Nagabuchi (Akemi Rogers), Mara Huf (Tracy), Miles Barrow (Dennis Jackson), Roger Allam (Robert Maxwell), Toby Jones (Robert Stein), Rick Yune (Bank Manager), Nikita Efremov (Alexey Pazhitnov), Oleg Stefan (Nikolai Belikov); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Gillian Barrie/Len Blavatnik/Gregor Cameron/Claudia Schiffer/Matthew Vaughn; Apple TV +; 2023)
“It tells the fantastic story of how the popular video game Tetris was allowed out of Russia to be played by the masses around the world, but its depiction is too murky to be fully enjoyed.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
A Cold-War-era heavily-plotted globetrotting true story film about the video gaming world by Scottish director Jon S. Baird (“Stan & Ollie”/”Filth”). It’s written by Noah Pink. It tells the fantastic story of how the popular video game Tetris was allowed out of Russia to be played by the masses around the world, but its depiction is too murky to be fully enjoyed.
In 1988, at a gaming convention, the Dutchman named Henk Rogers (Taron Egerton, whose performance is worth noting), raised in America and living in Japan with his Japanese wife (Ayana Nagabuchi) and family, learned about the Russian video game Tetris at a convention demonstration booth near his set-up, and became addicted to it. He would then buy the rights to the game in Japan. The games Soviet Union inventor (Nikita Efremov) finds that his government is negotiating deals with the media moguls of Mirrorware and Andromeda Software (Toby Jones and Roger Allam), as the small businessman Henk bids to go up against them by going to Russia to try and make a deal for it.
Henk’s will brazenly risk his life to bring the game to the world, as he must deal with all sorts of shady people, from blackmailers to betrayers.
How Henk does it becomes the gist of the film, as he earns our sympathy as the underdog in this dogfight.
Since I don’t play video games, I never felt what made this game so special. But all the shady dealings and its car chases made it seem like a thriller I could go along with.
REVIEWED ON 4/2/2023 GRADE: B-