4 1/2 Stars

Blackberry (2023)

When it works, it really works.

It seemed I was always behind when it came to cellphones.

It wasn’t until the spring of my senior year of high school when my parents finally relented and got me one (after they realized I had to borrow my friends’ to call for a ride), albeit a hand me down.

Only in my mid twenties did I finally manage the courage to go into the Sprint store and utter my rehearsed lines: “I’m looking to get a smart phone.”

The response I got was advice I wish I followed that day: “One of the worst mistakes you can make is getting a smartphone just so you can get a smartphone.”

One of the many great things about Blackberry, the new film by Matt Johnson, is it steadily shows the improvement of the technology without completely banking on it. Starting in 1996, we see the likes of the Palm Pilots (something I remember my dad having and pestering him to play with it) in the starting days of the Canadian RIM corporation, run mainly by Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel). His running of the company is clearly all brains but virtually no brawn, falling easily to the likes of company pirates. Things change when he hires a co-ceo, Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton), because, “What are pirates afraid of? Sharks.”

On the surface, the film can simply be seen as the eventual downfall that would be the blackberry phone, but the film is truly about the mismash of leadership between Mike and Jim. On one hand, you have the much more laid back, relatable Mike. He does not mind seeing his workers taking it easy, and playing a game of Doom (where were they when I needed them? I was needing help at that when I was nine.), or having a weekly movie night. 

All that changes when Jim, the complete other side of the coin, comes in. Not since the South Park film have I seen such rude behavior from a canadien. He is cut throat, cold, holds no prisoners, skipping every form of BS. He is not above hiring not only the best at rival companies, but the heavies that will over see production (in this case, Michael Ironside). Above all, he is effective.

All this is credit to actor Glenn Howerton, who I admit to not being familiar with prior to seeing this movie. He is nothing short of spellbinding while not at all going over the top with his performance. I was also pleasantly surprised with the likes of Jay Baruchel, who I would always associate with either a Judd Apatow comedy or Hiccup from the How to Train your Dragon films. His is the less showier role, but that does not make him any less wonderful.

Parents, this is not a kids movie. The constant swearing makes this easily a film that deserves it’s R rating.

Along with the previous Air, Blackberry is another film this year in the docu drama category that deals with a product (although this time around, it is not one that exists anymore). While Air dealt with something rather more familiar (at least to American audiences) while relying on atmosphere and a witty screenplay, BlackBerry deals more with what happens when two different personalities try to run the same show. When it works, it really works,and when it doesn’t, it really doesn’t. 

Blackberry is almost always in the former.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

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