Glenn Howerton sheds his hair and hides his comedic charms for a role which takes him to new heights. Jay Baruchel does much the same behind double-glazed glasses and an almost persistent need to meddle with what is just outside of his sphere of influence. Both would bring their roots to BlackBerry and each would find themselves dealing with a story which, ten to fifteen years ago, was absolutely dull as anything. Nobody was to know the phone was going to set the world alight and then fail to keep up with the innovation it started in just a decade. But believe it. BlackBerry benefits from admitting its fictional interpretations of real events and director Matt Johnson brings this through with a striking force. Grey and sinister, Howerton leads the charge in a stunning performance. All it takes is Elastica’s Connection, and there it is, it’s made.
Technology just out of reach is obsessed over by pop culture of the time. Cell phones were all the rage and BlackBerry makes this clear. It was hip and cool to be connected. Not so anymore, but the innovative explosion nearing the turn of the 21st century is terrifying. It was bound to implode. Frustrated fears and a rise to the top in such a quick response to an ever-evolving world drive people to a bitter new state. Determination and self-belief are shown to be not just the necessary fundamentals of a booming new business but the clear route to power and its corruptible assets. Not everyone is pally and pushing through as they do in Air, there is a real air of contempt between Lazaridis (Baruchel) and Balsillie (Howerton).
Stuffy little office blocks soon burst out, Baruchel and Howerton lead the charge and even though manipulation is clear, even though Doug (Matt Johnson) appears right, it is hard not to fall for the proposition on the table, which kicks everything else up a notch. Erratic back and forth makes for a real fun ride when Howerton smashes phones, screams his way through scenes and steals the show. Not flashy as Tetris was, not record-scratchy or product placing as Air was. BlackBerry finds a fine and interesting line between the two and relies on some real sinister showcases. Pushing the right buttons and never having a breaking point for standing up for yourself proves detrimental for those nerds within BlackBerry, and the heavy soundtrack variety brings about the bustling glumness of the capitalist heartland.
Tech is taking extravagant strides through features this year. It is a time for reflection on the 1980s and 1990s. Tetris had glossy effects and BlackBerry has a stunning back-and-forth between Howerton and Baruchel. For the duo to take themselves away from comedy to the next level of their respective careers comes through volatile chemistry, real and stark horrors which present themselves as more than financial risks. These are hellish adaptations to an ever-moving industry. Little flickers of what makes Howerton a great comic actor are present here too. In the bursts of rage, the Golden God presents himself as such an incredible force within BlackBerry, everyone rallies around him, performers and crew, to display some real confidence in a challenging role. Baruchel provides this too, their work leading the charge is quite a stunning piece of work.