Remember the fascinating times of getting your first cell phone that you could text with? Remember buying a more expensive phone because you could also use it to receive and send email? Remember 2007 and 2008, when these and other up-and-coming features were new and invigorating? The film that will take fans back to that era is BlackBerry, directed by Matt Johnson (he is also one of the lead actors).
BlackBerry introduces us to Mike Lazaridis, played by Jay Baruchel, and Doug Fregin, played by Matt Johnson. Mike and Doug are laid-back tech guys who run a company called Research in Motion. Their business has financial constraints causing production delays with new technologies, until they meet Jim Balsillie, played by Glenn Howerton. Jim is a businessman with a big ego and innovative ideas, and he’s after the big bucks. Jim takes over and his biggest idea is the first smartphone—the BlackBerry.
With new features being added continuously and new ways of selling cellular products, there is a lot that goes into a new product like the BlackBerry. The developers also had serious questions about whether the servers, the cellular companies, or the cell towers could handle the new speed and high data load that comes with smartphones. With the glitches growing and still more products selling, there is plateau after plateau in this film. Mike and Doug are focused on the technologies, but Jim is only interested in getting himself richer and richer.
The lesson from BlackBerry is one that is common today. It is that success and profit from a given product or service do not benefit everyone involved with the product. The ones actually developing and making the product are often treated poorly. The people pitching and selling the product—in the case of the BlackBerry, Jim—often make all the money. That is where the tension in BlackBerry is created. Jim is all about how much he can get for himself and not about how everyone else is compensated for their hard work.
The turmoil of the profiting, marketing, and sales pitching is where BlackBerry has its anxiety-provoking moments. Mike and Doug have brilliant minds, but they’re not great salesmen. And they don’t know how Jim does business. Jim is actually taking advantage of them, but they don’t realize it.
There are parts of BlackBerry that will make audiences laugh. But mostly it’s a serious film based on real-life events that will shock its audiences to their core and have their minds racing with curiosity about how it will turn out. Its focus is in-depth, and its revelations are intriguing. It’s a rollercoaster ride that creates suspense about a world where technology could not keep up with the speed of innovation. And it’s about greed and ambition that may leave behind the brilliant people who develop our technology products. It is a ride of egos, suspense, and a race to make profits. It is stellar in its presentation and is a one-of-a-kind true story. Four stars for BlackBerry.