Blackberry-SXSW Review

March 15, 202370/1006 min
Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Matt Johnson, Cary Elwes
Written by
Matt Johnson and Matthew Miller ( adapted by). Jacquie McNish ( based on the book by)
Directed by
Matt Johnson
Run Time
2h 2min
Release Date
Overall Score
Rating Summary

             Sometime in the late 2000’s I thought I was one of the cool kids on the block when I got my first Blackberry. Little did I now that that coolness with be short lived and if I really wanted to be cool I needed to get an iPhone. Some will never know what life was like before the iPhone, but what you have to understand, is if you were somebody, you had a Blackberry, one of the first phones that helped you take life on the go.  The story most don’t know is what happened behind the scenes, and that is where Blackberry the movie is going to take us.

In a building somewhere in Waterloo, Ontario a group of engineers lead by Mike Lazardis (Jay Baruchel) and Doug (Matt Johnson) are creating the next big thing. Their companies name is R.I.M. ( Research In Motion) and they think they have figured out a way to combine a pager, a phone, and your computer’s email into one device, you know, crazy talk. Mike and Doug are smart guys, but they are also easily walked over, but after a failed meeting with a company, someone there sees something in what they offered and wants to help.  That man is Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton), who after getting 33% of the company and becomes Co-CEO, takes lead in getting this new phone out there. After all their hard work the world is introduced to the Blackberry, a phone that becomes the “it” thing to have and ends up controlling over 40% of the phone market. Things are going great, but what goes up must come down, and with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007, the ending of the Blackberry could be just after it begins.

Written by Jacquie McNish, Matthew Miller, and Matt Johnson, the latter also directing, is freely inspired from the book Losing the Signal, by journalists Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff. Blackberry  presents the lighting -like rise, in a way that is both very appealing both visually and through audio, that makes you feel like you are in that time. Although early on the script provides plenty of laughs, as it progresses and gets closer to the collapse, it becomes much more serious. Also by telling the story in its straight forward way, about this group of nerds who change the world, VS. the business world, where figures and dollar signs rule, also adds some value to the narrative. It is this choice that makes the story compelling and beautiful, that became the first giant step which would take us where we are today in mobile technology.

Matt Johnson delivers a highly entertaining tech biopic, that will have you thinking about The Social Network, but with a slightly lesser budget. The low-key production is not a harsh take down of went wrong, but instead a sympathetic one about the rise and fall of Blackberry, The cast is great, led by Howerton, who gives a fiery performance and plays a fascination villain, and Baruchel who plays a role unlike anything he has done before. Everything is so well done, that you can forgive it for being a paint by number biopic, it also doesn’t hurt how entertaining it is. I for one have never forgotten that Blackberry I owned, and after watching Blackberry the film, I still would not trade my iPhone for it, but I also will never forget the cool.

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