Review: The Rise and Fall of “Blackberry”

Review: The Rise and Fall of “Blackberry”

I know so many people think 15-20 is such a tremendous time span, that they consider the early 2000s, ancient. But in the scheme of things, it really isn’t so long ago.

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But in that stretch of time, the way people interact with each other has changed drastically. In part, this is due to the invention of the “smartphone.” While there were messaging services and handheld computer devices already on the market, the Blackberry was the first step in the evolution of the mobile phone. And while younger generations may have never even heard of a Blackberry or its parent company, Research in Motion (RIM), the story of how the device came to be might be more intriguing than many expected. 

Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel and Douglas Fregin (Matt Johnson) have been friends since childhood. Their whip-smart minds and technical know-how got them a foot in the door with some big tech companies as they formed their own company, Research in Motion. They had uncovered a way to share data that no one else in the game had figured out. But being novices in sales and presentation, no one would take them seriously. When Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton) loses his job shortly after another poor presentation from Mike and Doug, he reaches out to the young entrepreneurs and offers to join forces to help sell their revolutionary product. The rest–as they say–is history. 

Though it isn’t something I would say anyone should be proud of (and probably not the point of Blackberry), it’s interesting to see a story that doesn’t glorify the twisted mogul’s hell bent on fame and fortune, but highlights their importance in actually getting things done. From what I know about Jim Balsillie before watching the movie and after watching Glenn Howerton bulldoze his way through everyone without fear of consequence in the film, I have no love for him what-so-ever. But it’s hard not to have some appreciation for his arrogance and pure Glengarry Glen Ross attitude was possibly the only thing that gave Mike and Doug their opening to change the game.

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Nothing would have happened without the tech and it’s clearly something that would have come to pass whether it be through Mike and Doug, or another ingenious mind. Though watching it all unfold is something of a wonder. Much like Steve Jobs–who later sank RIM and Blackberry with the iPhone–Blackberry maps out the power dynamic between a whip cracking taskmaster, and the minds that say it can’t be done on such a short timeline. The pressure to finish months if not years ahead of schedule leads to unexpected gains in the short-term. 

Watching Glenn Howerton turn the same psychotic energy of Dennis from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia into a real life portrayal is fascinating. Followed by Jay Baruchel turning his mousey shyness into cold hearted desire to be the one to change the world is somewhat painful, but in a beautiful way.

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It’s easy to feel for Mike through a good chunk of the film, and although he always has good intentions, Doug can always seem selfish and childish in his own way, but even as they end up the losers in the long run, these are all very wealthy and influential people in the end. It’s hard to pick a side or root for anyone by the time the film ends, but that’s kind of the point.

The world has become a place where we idolize and cheer for those who have revolutionized the way we live our lives, even though we know they are not good people. Blackberry isn’t just a dramatization of one of the biggest rises in the tech world, followed by one of its greatest crashes; it’s a mirror of the twisted cult of personality we’ve come to embrace for some odd reason, with some decent laughs thrown in.

Grade: B

Check out more of Matthew’s articles.

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