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After initially struggling with a coherent tone of voice Blackberry finds its footing about 30 minutes in, even if the movie never quite overcomes casting and pacing issues to leave a firm mark.

There has been a trend the last few years to make movies out of big tech rise-and-fall narratives, though none of those movies has been a homerun. Neither is Blackberry, but the picture does hold your attention for most of the runtime.

Chronicling the facinating story of how the 'phone people had before iPhone came along' (to quote a line from the film) Blackberry has a rough start due to a forced, not quite believable opening and an odd sound design that hints at the makers not quite knowing whether to go for a dark indie exposé or for an outright, funny satire.

This schism doesn't totally go away as the movie progresses, but the tone of voice does become more coherent, the narrative finds momentum and the unraveling of the company intrigues. Blackberry could have used a better focus though, is it is never clear which of the main characters we're supposed to invest in the most emotionally.

Part of that problem can be contributed to the script, but the casting is also at fault. Jay Baruchel is woefully miscast as the phone's inventor, Matt Johnson is perhaps the most relatable character but sidelined for most of the film, and Glenn Howerton turns up the intensity way past eleven, which grates very quickly indeed.

Blackberry thus is a film that is certainly worth a watch but one gets the feeling that a much better movie could have been mined from the subject.

release: 2023

director: Matt Johnson

starring: Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Matt Johnson, Michael Ironside


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