Mr. Will Wong
Based on Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff’s book Losing the Signal: The Untold Story Behind the Extraordinary Rise and Spectacular Fall of BlackBerry, Matt Johnson‘s BLACKBERRY is the riveting story behind the mobile device that changed the game around the 2010s with up to 85 million users internationally.
Fittingly-filmed right here in Toronto, as the phone was developed in Waterloo, the story centers on Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) and Jim Balsillie (Glenn Howerton). Lazaridis is struggling to get a BlackBerry prototype, the Pocket Link, off the ground. His idea is genius though, merging a computer and a phone together in a move that would change the way the world communicates. He meets Balsillie, who becomes the face to Lazardis‘ brains helping propel the Research in Motion invention to a global sensation.
Not unlike Aaron Sorkin‘s way of storytelling, BLACKBERRY moves along at a quick pace, really delving in the people and relationships behind the success and subsequent failure. We get a good glimpse into the frenetic energy of Silicon Valley – even though this is set in more humble west-of-Toronto backdrop – and exactly how cut-throat the Tech industry is. Everyone is in a rush to be innovative and first, and an inability to sustain at that pace, plus sketchy underdealings ultimately would lead to the downfall of an empire, leaving Lazaridis high and dry.
Baruchel is phenomenal, managing together with this talented Ensemble, to keep this gripping, yet finding moments of Comedy through it all. This is a mature performance which we’d know as we’ve been following him for years. Johnson is a great surprise exercising all the muscles, starring not only as Doug Fregin, Lazaridis’ partner, but also co-writing and directing. Howerton also is fantastic as the larger-than-life Balsillie, really getting lots of room to shine.
The acclaim coming out of Berlin and SXSW is certified. Elevation Pictures release BLACKBERRY May 12, 2023.
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