“BlackBerry” is a dramatization inspired by real people and events that took place in Waterloo, Ontario, while creating the BlackBerry phones.
Matt Johnson and Matt Miller’s story is based on the book “Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry” by Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff.
The movie starts in 1996 when Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie, paved the way for the smartphone we hold in our hands today. It’s about how their brilliance and vision brought us a phone that’s almost as smart as its user. Their pitch? It could be a pager and a phone, plus hold all your emails. Everything you need in one device.
In one scene, Mike (Baruchel) tells how and why he and his friend created their start-up company. Their company, Research in Motion (RIM), created by Mike and his friend Doug Fregin (played by director Matt Johnson), built circuit boards. In high school, a teacher said to them that free wireless internet signals were hanging out all across Northern America and no one was using them. That’s where they got the idea to develop the Pocket Link. Internet in your pocket. As they continued, they and their skilled team were responsible for bringing the internet to our phones.
Sadly, they and their co-workers had a very lackadaisical work ethic. They liked to play games while occasionally getting on the computer to do some work. Movie night was critical, coming before almost everything else.
Then the two masterminds meet with Jim (Glenn Howerton). They tell the manufacturing executive about their product and are dismissed when they won’t meet Jim’s demands. Doug was okay with that because he saw Jim as a sketchy shark.
Then Mike gets a call from Jim at home. Mike agrees to let Jim be his Co-CEO if he can give RIM $125,000. This agreement is where it all begins.
Interestingly and wisely, Johnson added a clip of Arthur C. Clarke who, in 1964, foretold how people within fifty years would be communicating. He was essentially correct.
He said that distance to connect with one another will no longer be an issue. Cities will no longer make sense. Travel will only be for pleasure, not business.
Clarke’s prediction had to be included. It would have been a massive miscalculation for Johnson not to have shown us the video.
I’ve included the link below.
Howerton’s Jim is a treat to watch. He’s always reddened, even when happy. He throws things and scares people, but he isn’t angry. This is his technique to motivate the boys with a billion-dollar idea. He’s trying to turn them into men. Jim immediately gets on the team about their procrastinative attitude toward business. He’s fast and furious, which concerns them but gets them moving.
On his first day, he sets up a meeting for him and Mike to go to New York City to meet with Bell Atlantic. He needs a prototype before the flight in the morning. The frightened employees do as they’re told and give Jim everything he needs to impress this giant corporation that they need the backing of. What can their phone do that others can’t do? It puts your computer and the internet inside your device. No more having to go to the office. They’re doubted at first.
We leap to 2003. Unlimited texting grows from this timeframe. The filmmakers start this year by showing us old ads, which were fun to watch. We even see Oprah, very enthusiastically, showing off the BlackBerry to the audience and those of you watching. This is when they get Carl Yankowski (Cary Elwes) enters their lives. He created the Palm Pilot and will get take the company through a hostile takeover if they don’t work with him on his ideas for the company.
Jim knows Carl can do it, too, so he hires everyone he can find to fix their bugs and make the BlackBerry better than ever. However, how he gets these people aren’t exactly through legal means, and he gets himself and the company into some trouble.
Then 2007 hits. Here comes Steve Jobs and Apple, which you know is the beginning of the end for the BlackBerry.
This story mainly dives deeply into the fundamental differences between the business side of things and the talent, but also into how essential it is they understand one another. There’s more to the film that I had a good time watching that I’ve left out, but I have a question. Before the end of things, why couldn’t the company have adapted? Jay has! He was great not being in a comedy for a change.
Arthur C. Clarke Clip: https://youtu.be/wC3E2qTCIY8
Directed by: Matt Johnson
Written by: Matt Johnson, Matt Miller
Cast: Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Matt Johnson, Rich Sommer, Michael Ironside, Martin Donovan, Michelle Giroux, Sungwon Cho, Mark Critch, Saul Rubinek, Cary Elwes
Rating: R (Language Throughout)
Running Time: 2h 4m
Genres: Comedy, Drama, History
Distributed by: IFC Films