May 9, 2023 Blackberry (Movie Review)
In 2013, filmmaker Matt Johnson released his debut feature film entitled The Dirties. A found footage film which told the story of the effect of high school bullying, since then he has been involved in several projects. Leading us to his newest film, BlackBerry, which tells a true-life story, rather than a fictional one. Set for release in theaters on May 12, 2023 via IFC Films, it is clear that Johnson has employed similar tactics with BlackBerry often watching like a found footage film with voyeuristic angles and handheld camera shots.
Adapted from Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff’s novel Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, the film stars Jay Baruchel (Goon 2011, This is the End 2013) as Mike Lazaridis and Glenn Howerton (The Strangers 2008, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia series) as Jim Balsillie. The two mismatched entrepreneurs, shy and technically minded Mike and cutthroat businessman Jim, join forces to excel their innovative new phone to the top of the market. But with multiple money issues and the invention of the smartphone looming, one of the most successful ventures in the tech world soon finds itself under threat.
BlackBerry joins a slew of films which have given an insight into the inception of tech world giants. Almost everyone will have heard of the company and the product, many will have even owned a BlackBerry themselves, however not everyone will know the story behind the company. In that way, this is a fascinating insight into that.
Whilst BlackBerry is a Drama, it employs the use of comedy throughout. Johnson himself opts to play RIM co-founder Doug Fregin as a bandana wearing goofball, a guy more concerned with work movie nights than hitting deadlines. The rest of the RIM team appear to be assembled of stereotypical geeks who spend an inordinate amount of time playing video games and jamming up the phone line whilst they browse the internet.
Baruchel is at once both an odd choice and a perfect choice for Lazaridis. He is utterly believable as the more softly spoken of the two entrepreneurs and as a tech genius. Yet the more silver his hair gets, the more baby faced he looks. The real standout is Howerton as Balsillie who is the ruthless, driving force never taking no for an answer and who is happy to scream at anyone as long as he gets what he wants.
Though BlackBerry is often funny, and sometimes it even feels like a mockumentary, it does eventually evolve into a more serious film. As the smartphone comes to light, the team behind BlackBerry are forced to try and keep up but how can they? There is something quite sobering about watching an excitable, innovative team morph into a corporate depression. If anything, this is a film that reminds us how nothing lasts forever no matter how revolutionary it may seem or how much effort, work and time we put into it. That is why Cryptic Rock gives Blackberry 3.5 out of 5 stars.