Men looking intense

Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton as Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie. (Elevation Pictures)

You might already know why the BlackBerry failed; if not, you can always search for the reason on your iPhone. Instead, I recommend watching the biographical comedy-drama directed by Matt Johnson, which cleverly blends sharp wit with insightful intelligence that delivers a highly entertaining exploration of the rise and fall of the smartphone that shaped an era.

"BlackBerry," tells the story of two unlikely partners, the innovative inventor Mike Lazaridis and the fiercely competitive businessman Jim Balsillie, who collaborated to create a global sensation in just over a decade. They were the driving forces behind the BlackBerry, a revolutionary mobile phone that altered how people worked, played, and communicated. A handheld sensation that, for the first time, allowed email, text messaging, web browsing, and, not to mention, phone calls. The integrated keyboard was a game-changer of its time. I can't say how much of the movie's narrative sticks to the actual facts, but it doesn't detract from the story's wit, charm, and compelling depiction of risk, reward, and fall from grace.

Showing us the early-chaotic days of the company, the film's pacing, guided by the director's vision, reflects the changing dynamics of the company. It starts with an energetic, choppy, fast-paced feel, shot with a handheld camera reminiscent of "The Office's" style of camera movements and zooms. Initially, everyone is having a great time. However, as the story progresses, we gradually become aware of the harsh realities of achieving success in the corporate world and the pressures that come with it, leading to a more measured pace.

Jay Baruchel, known for playing somewhat awkward but endearing characters, delivers one of his career's most heartfelt and impressive performances with striking authenticity. He embodies Mike Lazaridis, the co-founder of the Canadian software company Research in Motion (RIM). In the early 1990s, RIM was merely a small team, including Mike, his best friend, and co-founder Douglas Fregin, played comically by the director Matthew Johnson and a small group of quirky tech aficionados that seem more like a college fraternity than a serious operation. Their latest brainchild is the BlackBerry, which is in its early stages of development.

The small-ragtag operation, despite their brilliance, is on the brink of bankruptcy due to financial struggles—that is, until Mike meets and convinces the relentless and aggressive businessman Jim Balsillie, played by Glenn Howerton, who steals every scene he's in, to take the helm of RIM. Jim is someone who probably needs anger management. He constantly appears on the verge of losing his temper, given his belief that those around him lack the competence that he possesses. He is continuously shown smashing devices and shouting profanities at other employees as he tries to instill some "discipline." This sets up an interesting partnership that was far from smooth sailing at the start.

At one point, the team is in a rush to secure a mass manufacturing deal. Jim insists they have a working prototype of the phone when in fact, they do not—leading to a desperate scramble to create one the night before a crucial meeting. This dynamic is a constant theme: Mike and Doug provide technical prowess, while Jim is the driving force. The result is an effective, albeit volatile, mixture.

The film becomes more captivating once the BlackBerry takes the world by storm—revealing the complications that arise when success fuels a sense of entitlement. After the BlackBerry escalates into a massive phenomenon, Mike evolves from a shy and awkward nerd into a formal, slicked-back grey-haired suit-wearing executive. Doug struggles to maintain the initial spirit of joy and curiosity that characterized the company. At the same time, Jim ventures on a reckless journey, making unrealistic promises, improvising strategies to boost stock prices, and poaching leading engineers from companies like Google. The relentless demand for continuous innovation and the realization of looming competition begin to strain the team. Even as BlackBerry establishes itself as a market leader and a cultural icon, you know the company is on the brink of spiraling out of control.

Mike overlooks Jim's increasingly risky behavior and appears incapable or perhaps unwilling to make crucial decisions about the company's future. Despite Mike's genius, he is caught off guard when Steve Jobs introduces the first iPhone, a three-in-one device, and dismisses it prematurely as an insignificant widget that won't succeed; oh boy, was he wrong.

"BlackBerry" masterfully depicts the decisions and missteps that eventually lead to the company's downfall—creating a compelling story rooted in the protagonists' personality-driven dilemmas. While Mike, Doug, and Jim can ignite a technological revolution, they lack the cohesion to sustain their victory.

Despite the clear narrative direction, the film's biggest challenge is that we already know how the story ends, which takes away some suspense. However, "BlackBerry" maintains an engaging and realistic perspective amidst its dark humor. The performances will have you hooked from start to finish.

"BlackBerry" is a stimulating biopic that entertains and informs—illustrating the journey of a groundbreaking idea that dominated the tech industry until a better idea emerged, sending the BlackBerry to the forgotten corners of your drawer. At its core, "BlackBerry" is not a warning against greed or arrogance but how business can expose cracks in a friendship and destroy it.

As a reminder, at its height, BlackBerry controlled 45% of the cell phone market. Today, it stands at 0