“Why would anybody want a phone without a keyboard?” BlackBerry chronicles the rise and fall of Research In Motion - a company that was once one of the world’s largest tech giants. Taking us through the brilliant and careless decisions behind RIM’s massive success and eventual failure, this biopic follows the people responsible for it all.
Inspiration was clearly drawn from other business-based films like The Social Network, Wolf of Wall Street and The Big Short. BlackBerry smartly avoids feeling like a retread though, thanks to its perfect balance between the characters and the product they’re pushing. It gives an ample look at the basics of the technology and how it functions, but never bogs you down with complicated terminology or over-explanation. This keeps the pacing tight, and makes every step of the company’s journey easy to follow.
Jay Baruchel stars as Mike Lazaridis - one of RIM’s co-founders. It’s a strong performance, and truly fascinating watching the changes his character goes through as the company grows. His lack of confidence and timid nature make for a great contrast against some of the other characters - especially Glenn Howerton’s Jim Balsillie, who is the polar opposite. Howerton’s aggressive, rage fuelled display is commanding, but also serves frequently as comedic relief with how over-the-top it can be. The always intimidating Michael Ironside needs to be commended as well, stepping in half way through the film as RIM’s frightening and ruthless COO.
One of BlackBerry’s most impressive aspects is just how stressed-out it’ll have you feeling. Director Matt Johnson does an outstanding job at placing you in the shoes of these men, where you’ll be feeling every bit of anxiety and uncertainty they do as they navigate the business’ highs and lows. His documentary style of shooting works beautifully in putting you right there, in every board meeting, design lab and office space with these characters.
Blackberry is a sharp, funny and engaging biopic about a company we as consumers often took for granted. It borrows from other films, but feels energetic and fresh, resulting in one of the best movies so far this year.
Opening in theatres May 12th.