Despite a seemingly never-ending plague of box office bombs this year, including high-budget films such as The Little Mermaid, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, and The Flash, there have been a host of excellent cinematic outings in 2023. One such film, Matt Johnson’s BlackBerry, managed to make a small but noticeable splash at the box office, resulting in a stunning 98 percent certified fresh critic score from Rotten Tomatoes. The film stars How To Tame Your Dragon‘s Jay Baruchel and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia‘s Glenn Howerton as the tech and business duo behind the BlackBerry cellular phone.
The Incredible Story Behind BlackBerry Phones
Though the film’s premise may not immediately strike you as rife with thrilling storytelling potential, BlackBerry manages to take the high-intensity world of tech development, corporate espionage, and the true tale of one corporation’s rise and incredible fall to its absolute limits.
Those who lived through the era of BlackBerry phones being the must-have product on the market will look back at the moment in history with a newfound sense of awe after seeing the film, while those too young to recall the ubiquity of the full-keyboard phone will be shocked and appalled by the underhanded business practices which brought mobile internet to the next level.
A Deal Is Made
BlackBerry, which was written and directed by Canadian filmmaker and Nirvanna The Band The Show showrunner Matt Johnson, takes place in Waterloo, Canada, as Research in Motion CEO Mike Lazaridis and his team of tech engineers work tirelessly on their latest invention, the PocketLink.
After being quickly laughed out of a financing meeting with known business shark Jim Balsillie, the team is forced to regroup under the threat of impending bankruptcy. Just as it looks like RIM is dead in the water, Balsillie returns with a counteroffer to fund and develop the device, under the demand that he be made CEO and take a 50 percent stock in the company.
BlackBerry Takes The World By Storm
After a brief negotiation, Balsillie agrees to take on the role of co-CEO and a third of the company’s assets, but quickly brings a cutthroat no-nonsense approach to the previously jovial and relaxing office environment. Balsillie’s contributions turn out to be quite useful in the long run, as his constant pushing and demanding work schedule give way to Lazaridis and his best friend and co-founder Douglas Fregin developing the first BlackBerry prototype overnight, just in time for a business meeting with massive telecommunications company Bell Atlantic. Before long, the phone has taken the world by storm, utilizing innovative technology and dominating over 45 percent of the global cell phone market.
Shady Deals And The Downfall
As the company grows and expands into larger and larger markets, Jim Balsillie begins to utilize underhanded methods to remain on top, such as offering illegally back-dated stock options to Google engineers in order to poach them from their high-paying tech jobs. As the company begins to balloon out of control, Apple Computers announces their latest device, the iPhone, resulting in a catastrophic fallout for the BlackBerry. Today, the BlackBerry phone is left completely out of circulation, and accounts for 0 percent of the global phone market.
The Best Movie Of 2023?
BlackBerry has been praised for its visceral dialogue, creative visual language, and gripping performances, with Glenn Howerton’s performance as Jim Balsillie serving as a career-best. The film was distributed in the United States by IFC Films, resulting in a limited theatrical run. Despite the film’s limited run, fans of Howerton’s FX series It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia were largely inspired to catch screenings of the thriller, in large part due to the film’s marketing highlighting Balsillie’s volcanic behavior, likening the character to Howerton’s perpetually frustrated Always Sunny character, Dennis Reynolds.
Corporate Thrillers Hit The Mark
While 2023 may have been a tough year for massive blockbuster films and major superhero outings, smaller more intimate films such as BlackBerry were given space to thrive. The highly-rated film has been compared to other corporate thrillers such as David Fincher‘s The Social Network and Adam McKay’s The Big Short, bringing the shocking untold story of a popular product to light like never before. BlackBerry serves as essential viewing for those seeking to understand how the advent of mobile internet came to be such a massive aspect of our daily lives.