Following an unsuccessful pitch of their new handheld device, inventors Mike Lazaridis (Jay Baruchel) and Doug Fregin (Matt Johnson) recruit corporate warrior Jim Ballsillie (Glenn Howerton) to help guide their company, Research In Motion, out of potential bankruptcy. Using bullish tactics and a willingness to undermine anyone, the company succeeds in becoming the creator of the world's first smartphone - but soon, the riches and the successes eventually leads to their downfall...
There's been a run of late in corporate dramas. It began with 'Air' and the race to sign Michael Jordan to Nike. Then came 'The Beanie Bubble' and the collapse of the toy collectors' market. 'Dumb Money' and the GameStop Squeeze delved into just how underhanded and uneven late-stage capitalism was, and there was even one about the Flamin' Hot Doritos. 'BlackBerry' is held up by a powerful, mesmerising performance by the Golden God himself - Glenn Howerton of 'It's Always Sunny...' fame - and his impressively designed baldness. For two hours, Howerton screams and curses his way across the screen in a knock-off Gordon Gecko get-up.
You'd think that this isn't enough to sustain a movie for two hours, yet the sheer force of will with which Howerton performs as Jim Ballsillie makes it captivating. It's little wonder there's already a lot of awards talk around the movie. Jay Baruchel and Matt Johnson both pale when confronted with Howerton's performance, and that's sort of the point because Ballsillie effectively roared and rampaged until he got what he wanted out of the "nerds". It's only in the final act that you begin to see how little interest he had in the company, instead merely using it as a vehicle to grab hold of things - like a hockey company or a private jet.
Compared to other corporate dramas, 'BlackBerry' is an effective morality tale. Baruchel's character, Mike Lazaridis, is a softly-spoken tech guru who shuffles around a dank office for most of the movie. We're first introduced to him hyper-fixating on a cheap intercom that he then repairs in a flash with a paperclip. Yet, by the end of the movie, he's gelling his hair up in a ridiculous-looking quiff that makes him look like a 'Star Trek' villain and wearing monotone, expensive suits, all while he struggles alone in an office to come up with an iPhone killer. The downfall is personal as much as it is professional.
'BlackBerry' is frequently funny and raucous in its telling, and it's clear that director-cowriter Matt Johnson has a sharp eye for comedy. It helps, of course, that the cast assembled is made up of comedy heavyweights like Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton, not to mention an over-the-top sleazy performance by Cary Elwes. The frequent needle-drops throughout the movie and the attention to production design places 'BlackBerry' right in the heady, Wild West days of the early internet, but it's all down to the performances that sets 'BlackBerry' apart from the herd of other corpo-dramas of late.