We’ve seen various movies about the rise and/or fall of famous tech and business companies: David Fincher’s The Social Network explored the messy rise of Facebook, Danny Boyle’s Steve Jobs analyzed the inner life of Steve Jobs throughout Apple’s history, and Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street showcased the rise and fall of Wall Street stockbroker Jordan Belfort.

Master directors have given their spins on these all-too-familiar stories about so-called titans and geniuses of the tech and business world. We’ve seen the best that this subgenre of biopics has to offer, so one would expect that this well has been completely dried up and we can only go down from here. However, director Matt Johnson would say otherwise as his newest biopic about the rise and fall of BlackBerry proves that no genre is completely dead as long as you have the right creative mind and approach to a topic.

BlackBerry, as the name implies, tells the complete story of the BlackBerry phone in the traditional and expected three-act structure you’d expect: the birth of BlackBerry, the product at its height in terms of popularity and value, and the eventual downfall when both external and internal forces cause everything to come crashing down. While the story itself may not leave much in terms of innovation or originality, it’s how Johnson executes this story that makes BlackBerry one of the most exciting and adrenaline-fueled films of 2023.

Forgoing any traditional approach to filmmaking, Johnson instead chose to shoot this film almost like a documentary, and for the most part, this was a wise and effective decision because not only did it help make what’s happening in the film feel very grounded and immersive, but its scrappy approach to filmmaking, in many ways, mirrors the underdog characters within the film themselves. There is so much love and passion put into the filmmaking aspects of BlackBerry that even if the cinematography got a bit unintentionally goofy at times (specifically pointing to the zoom-ins on people’s faces that looked like it was ripped straight out of The Office), you can’t help but admire what is being presented in front of you.


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Additionally, on top of all the filmmaking craft, this is also a very well-executed movie in terms of acting as Jay Baurachel and Glenn Howerton did an excellent job giving their performances. Despite the two actors playing very different characters in terms of personality, the film does a great job showcasing why the two CEOs need each other and why they both require each other to succeed, and a lot of that is definitely boosted by the two leads’ excellent chemistry. There is so much that you can analyze regarding their characters that even without dialogue, Baurachel and Howerton bring so much life and energy to these roles that you can pick up on little nuances and subtleties that their characters express.

Overall, despite some of the cliches and familiarities this film has, this an incredibly well-made and passionate movie that was made by people who not only cared about the subject matter but how they presented said subject matter. While I’m still a newbie when it comes to Johnson’s filmography, BlackBerry was a fitting introduction to this great director – and I can’t wait to both visit some of his past work while also hotly anticipating what this man will be cooking up next.

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