Blackberry: A Dark Comedy About the Smartphone’s Precursor [Movie Review]

By: Russ Matthews

Most of us find it hard to imagine a world without iPhones and smartphones.

Still, before Apple dominated the market, there was the BlackBerry. This phone was a revolutionary product that brought together the technology of the mobile phone and the keyboard, allowing it to send emails worldwide. Yet, like all technological advances, the first smartphone almost didn’t exist until three unlikely business partners came together.

In 1996, Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) and Douglas Fregin (Matt Johnson) were two technologically astute business partners who needed skills to get their products to market. Research in Motion was their struggling business, and the pair were about to lose it all until they came in contact with Jim Balsillie (Glen Howerton). He was a ruthless and driven businessman who saw the genius behind this bastion of computer savvy and had the connections to get their unique phone to the public. Despite their significant differences in style and knowledge, this trio would go on to establish one the largest Canadian tech companies in the world, until the introduction of the iPhone.

Matt Johnson stars in this dark comedy based on actual events and directs the action behind BlackBerry’s development. He captures the chaotic and serendipitous elements that led this company to become the precursor to the smartphone generation. The director’s frenetic pace takes audiences on the journey from the company’s inception to the euphoric heights of success until its demise as rapid changes occur within the market. Baruchel and Howerton make the whole experience believable and engaging as they immerse themselves in their roles. Each actor manages to hold on throughout the screenplay’s breakneck speed and prove how companies need varied skills to succeed. What was compelling about this unbelievable historical account was how something that occurred in recent years could be so quickly forgotten. At one time, BlackBerry had close to 50% of the market of mobile phones in the world. Yet, viewers may see this all with fresh eyes unless they are students of business history. This aspect makes this story compelling as Johnson shows how this handheld device changed how humanity communicates as its creation is played against a backdrop of modern culture. Even more fascinating is how this product survived Research in Motion’s utterly turbulent and unpredictable atmosphere, which included movie nights, hockey teams, and hostile takeover bids.

BlackBerry is for those who enjoy a bit of business history mixed with the chaotic nature of effective product development combined with the unpredictable nature of humanity.

REEL DIALOGUE: Promise never to lie to one another

 

At the beginning of their partnership, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie committed to never lie to one another. This was a mainstay of their business for years, but it became the company’s downfall when this moral bond was broken. This truth has been central to some of the greatest teachings in history. The proven statement is that honesty is the best policy.

‘For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.’ Luke 8:17

Usually, the person attempting to justify a lie is looking for validation for their moral failings. This may be a confronting statement for some, but for those who have lived through the repercussions of an untruth, it is well… the truth.

When confronted with difficulties in life, being truthful in all things may bring short-term pain, but it will provide peace of mind over the long haul. Also, it leaves the person with nothing to cover up in the future.

When it comes down to it, Mum was right. A lie is a lie. ‘Just truth tellin’!’

If you want to discuss honesty and God, contact us at Third Space. We would love to chat about this and more.


Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.

All images: Movie stills

About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.

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