Movie Review: Blackberry – A thrilling portrayal of the rise and fall of a tech giant

Blackberry was a force to be reckoned with in the early to mid-2000s. Designed to function like a mini-computer, the phone quickly became a must-have status symbol for all the affluent members of society much like a Mercedes Benz or a Rolex watch. It dominated the mobile phone industry and its founders were basking in glory. So, why and how did such a huge company disappear into oblivion?

Directed by Matt Johnson who also co-stars as Douglas Fregin, Blackberry is a biographical comedy-drama that takes the viewers through all the many milestones and challenges that BlackBerry experienced.

Despite its prestigious status, BlackBerry came from very humble beginnings. It was the brainchild of Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin who are two ambitious but almost naïve, Canadian-born best friends with a love for technology. They built a small tech company, Research In Motion, that eventually gave birth to the Blackberry.

The movie starts in 1996 where Mike and Douglas are headed to pitch their latest product, PocketLink which they later rebrand to Blackberry, to a room full of suits. They fumbled the presentation and it’s clear that the two founders weren’t quite ready for the big leagues despite having a great product.

One of the suits saw their potential and decided to offer them a helping hand. After being fired from his job, Jim Balsillie approached Mike and Douglas to join their company. He lied to them that he quit his job but later came clean. However, these minor details show how deceitful the capitalist world can be. It also displayed the difference between creators and businessmen. Like many creative geniuses, Mike and Doug lacked the ruthlessness that their business counterpart, Jim, had.

Nonetheless, Jim played a huge role in the success of Blackberry or maybe it was his shrewd business tactics that led to the downfall of the company. He pushed the two founders out of their comfort zone and helped them navigate the corporate world. Blackberry became a household name that the likes of Oprah, Barack Obama and Kim Kardashian were proud to own. However, their fall came just as fast as their rise.

Behind the scenes, BlackBerry was facing challenges that its founders weren’t prepared for – the speed of technology. Douglas and Mike didn’t want to trade in the signature qwerty keyboard that was synonymous with Blackberry despite the touch screen becoming more popular. They also didn’t want to move their production to China since they said that the manufacturers didn’t care about the quality of the devices they made.

This is where the iPhone beat them and led to their inevitable fall. While BlackBerry revolutionized the way we communicate today, it stuck to its rigid structure and “baby internet” even when the rest of the world was moving forward with technology. Eventually, the company couldn’t keep up with the fast-growing iPhone and Blackberry went under. Mike resigned as CEO in 2012, Jim avoided jail, and Douglas sold his stock in 2007, making him one of the richest men in the world.

Unlike many biographical movies, especially tech ones, this story is excitingly told and the dialogues are so quotable which keeps the audience glued to the screen. Victorious moments are accompanied by celebratory songs that help the viewers feel as if they were in the Blackberry headquarters in 2003. There’s suspense, rivalry, and unexpectedly moving moments that create an overall thrilling watching experience.

The movie also captures the whole journey of Blackberry in great detail but this comes with a few limitations. Everything moves very fast and it feels like if you blink you will miss a whole scene. Still, it’s a fun watch even for a tech movie bearing many similarities to movies like Wolf Of Wall Street.