It’s interesting to think that some of the younger moviegoers will have no idea what a BlackBerry is and what it does. I guess these are the thoughts you start having as you’re getting older. But you didn’t come here to read about my ongoing existential crisis so I’ll get on with it. BlackBerry is a movie about the rise and fall of the first big smartphone, BlackBerry. And it is worth watching. Please do not be dismayed by the quirky filming style as the cast, storytelling, and just the general vibe of the movie were excellent. I would best describe it as The Office style of filmmaking. However, after a while, you get used to it and it starts to give the movie a bit more authenticity.
I also loved an insane amount of cute little details all techies and gamers are going to appreciate immensely. Is techie the right word, I’m not sure anymore. Another thing that the movie BlackBerry did absolutely right was the synergy between the timid engineers and ruthless execs. This brings us to Glenn Howerton and his brilliant performance as Jim Balsillie. He reminded me a bit of Tom Cruise in Tropic Thunder. Jay Baruchel and Matt Johnson, who also wrote and directed this movie were great as well. All of them came together to tell a story of a group of smart people who needed a bulldog to sell their innovative product.
Vastly superior to the recent Tetris movie, BlackBerry is a movie that will satisfy both those who are interested in technology and those who are not. Mostly because this is a human story and a story about how the world works. And this story features all kinds of different people. Since there are so many vastly different characters you might recognize yourself in some of them. If you’re asking me who I identified the most with, it was, of course, the character of Doug, played by Matt Johnson. I especially loved his shirt collection.
It is the year of our lord 1996 and a small research company RIM has a big idea. They want to create the world’s first smartphone and they’re looking for investors. However, the ruthlessness of the business world just keeps punching them. This is where Jim comes in. Jim is a shark and he soon starts biting back, creating an opportunity for RIM to disrupt the mobile phone market. This is where their miraculous journey together begins.
Speaking of sharks I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Futurama’s episode, Future Stock. You know the one with literally That Guy, a sleazy businessman who froze himself in the eighties and then came back to wreak havoc in the future. Are you a shark or a sheep? BlackBerry accurately depicts this dog-eat-dog world where not only the customers get fucked in the neverending quest for higher profits but also everyone else involved. Apart from the technological aspect we also have the infamous China dilemma where BlackBerry refuses to move production there.
I remember another Canadian company that did something similar but with computer monitors (ViewSonic). Finally, if you’re looking for more movies about technology check out The Hummingbird Project starring Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård. To make things even weirder, Alexander also shaved his head bald just like Glenn Howerton did. And you also have two great miniseries The Dropout (Theranos) and WeCrashed (WeWork).
Director: Matt Johnson
Writers: Jacquie McNish, Sean Silcoff, Matt Johnson
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Matt Johnson, Martin Donovan, Ben Petrie, Michael Ironside
Fun Facts: While the BlackBerry smartphone is dead, the company Blackberry Limited still lives as a cybersecurity company.