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Content Caution

Tetris 2023 movie


In Theaters


Home Release Date




Kennedy Unthank

Movie Review

When Bullet-Proof Software CEO Henk Rogers first saw Alexey Pajitnov’s Tetris at the Consumer Electronics Show in 1988, he was hooked.

“It was the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” he tells a lender. “I still see falling blocks in my dreams.”

Henk is convinced that the Russian game is the next big thing. He’s so convinced that he puts everything on the line to get the rights to Tetris. Henk obtains a high-interest loan (with his home as collateral) that gives him the money he needs to purchase those rights.

Fortunately, though, he secures a partnership with Nintendo with plans to make Tetris the feature game for the upcoming Game Boy system. He also manages to secure the rights to publish the game in Japan, but he’s looking to obtain the rights for handheld console publication, too.

And, well, that’s a bit tricky. Turns out, due to a miscommunication and some legalese, no one’s quite sure who owns handheld rights. In fact, it’s all so complicated that Henk figures that he might as well fly to Moscow to clear things up.

Easy, right? Not so much.

Henk soon finds that Pajitnov’s people in the U.S.S.R. weren’t even aware that the rights to the game had been sold. In fact, it soon becomes apparent that, due to a miscommunication, the man who thought he had purchased the rights to sell to others had never gotten them in the first place.

Soon, a multitude of would-be claimants come swooping in for their alleged piece of the puzzle—putting even more pressure on Henk.

And then there’s the Communist party. Its members don’t exactly take kindly to a swarm of greedy capitalists attempting to buy—or perhaps steal—what they see as their property.

So even if Henk isn’t taken out of the race by the wealthier capitalists, he just might be taken down by the KGB—all for a few falling blocks.

Positive Elements

When Henk realizes that he doesn’t actually have the publishing rights to Tetris, he sets out to make it right, explaining how he was mistaken and looking to get the proper documentation. His actions cause some people to commend him for his honesty.

During his time in Russia, he forms a strong friendship with Alexey, and the two support one another throughout the film. Furthermore, when other people begin to notice corruption, they risk their jobs (and even their own well-being) to speak out against it. Alexey gives away food to a woman who has none.

When Henk and Alexey attend a party, the pop-metal band Europe’s hit song “The Final Countdown” begins playing. After Henk sees the Soviet people in the room singing the words, he asks Alexey how they all know the lyrics. Alexey responds with what seems to be the general theme of the movie: “Good ideas have no borders.”

We see a very minor subplot in which Henk realizes that he’s put his obsession of Tetris over his family. After missing his daughter’s recital, he apologizes, and he sets up a stage at home for her to perform it for him.

Spiritual Elements


Sexual Content

A woman named Sasha surprises Henk with a kiss, and he tells her that he is married. After his pants are stolen, we see Henk walking around in his boxers.

Violent Content

KGB agents drag and beat Henk and another man, and the latter has visible bruises and cuts from the altercation. They threaten to throw Alexey’s children off a high balcony, and they make vague threats regarding Henk’s children. Someone else gets punched in the face. Another character starts a small fire as a distraction. Cars crash into each other. Henk breaks his phone in anger.

Crude or Profane Language

The film’s R rating comes exclusively from its profanity. And there’s a lot of it. The f-word is used nearly 30 times, including one pairing with “mother.” The s-word is heard seven times. Additionally, we hear a handful of uses of “a–,” “b–ch,” “d–n,” “b–tard” and “crap.” Someone is called a “whore.” We hear the British vulgarity “bloody,” and we hear how people were “screwed” out of a deal. Someone is also called a “pr-ck.” God’s name is abused twice, including one time that is followed by “d–n.” Jesus’ name is used in vain five times, including once with the f-word.

Drug and Alcohol Content

People drink alcohol and smoke cigars and cigarettes throughout the film. A party goes late into the night, where many folks can be seen dancing and drinking. Someone hails a taxi by holding out a package of cigarettes.

Other Negative Elements

A company is discovered to have been using company pension funds for illegal purposes. A man urinates on a street corner. Henk lies regarding a visa to gain temporary access to the U.S.S.R., and he trespasses at Nintendo, too.


I’m not sure if the real-life story surrounding Henk Rogers’ acquisition of Tetris involved being threatened by the KGB, but it sure makes for an intense film.

As Henk ventures into Russia to purchase the rights to the game, he encounters a collapsing Soviet Union whose officials are desperately attempting to keep the country’s broken pieces from falling apart. But, like Tetris, the pieces are falling quicker and quicker, and it won’t be long before it’s game over.

The panic is setting in, which is perhaps why the Western capitalist Henk’s arrival in Moscow is so threatening. Because even though he’s just trying to purchase the rights to a game about stacking digital blocks, his mere presence symbolically underscores the reality that the Soviet Union and its economic system are collapsing. For Henk to buy Tetris would set an ominous precedent for other capitalists looking to buy away other parts of the country and its culture.

Tetris is, at its core, a legal drama where companies based in various countries debate contract law—which, in principle, sounds arguably less interesting than just playing Tetris. But the movie makes such negotiations interesting and tense. The story also emphasizes positive messages about courageously defending freedom of expression and standing up to corrupt authorities.

And while those authorities throw a few punches and threaten some deadly consequences for the movie’s protagonist, there’s very little violence here. In fact, the only reason Tetris is rated R is due to its preponderance of profanity, as we hear nearly 30 f-words and a variety of other harsh vulgarities, too.

Were it not for all that swearing, Apple TV+’s Tetris would, overall, have earned a pretty high score. It’s a shame that the language crashes the game that plays out onscreen.

So be sure to consider that concern before you plop your proverbial quarter into this version of Tetris.

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Kennedy Unthank

Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics. He thinks the ending of Lost “wasn’t that bad.”