Matt Johnson’s Blackberry takes us on an immersive journey through the extraordinary history of one of the pioneering smartphones. This intriguing cinematic portrayal takes us back in time, allowing us to witness the remarkable ascent of BlackBerry from its modest origins to its esteemed status as one of the world’s first and most cherished smartphones. Throughout the film, we are introduced to the characters who portray the real-life individuals responsible for the success of this iconic smartphone.
What Was Jim Balsillie’s Role In The Collapse Of Blackberry?
Mike Lazaridis’ brilliance and Jim Balsillie’s business strategy were the reasons behind the successful establishment of BlackBerry Limited. Played by Glenn Howerton, Jim Balsillie, a Canadian businessman, established a larger-scale enterprise from a small tech company called Research in Motion, which had fewer than ten employees. However, it was evident that Jim never had a close friendship or camaraderie with Mike and Douglas. Instead, his behavior toward the entire office was characterized by dominance and arrogance. Balsillie’s actions, as portrayed in the film, caused fear and discomfort among the employees, who found him authoritative and arrogant. But though his unpopular demeanor sometimes caused chaos, Balsillie was determined to elevate the company’s status and make it a global leader.
Balsillie possessed a keen understanding of the potential outcome of Lazaridis’s visionary ideas. He held unwavering trust in Lazaridis, recognizing that with his technological brilliance and Balsillie’s marketing efforts, the company could soar to great heights. Consequently, he spared no effort in recruiting exceptional engineers, firmly believing that this would lead the company to unparalleled success. However, in his pursuit of making the company the best in the industry, Balsillie exceeded the boundaries of his authority. He pursued talented engineers from top tech companies by offering higher salaries, even if it meant manipulating stock options and inflating his own share value. These actions resulted in significant fluctuations in the stock market, attracting the attention of the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission), which contacted BlackBerry Limited to investigate the matter.
Lazaridis, who primarily focused on the technological aspects of the company, remained unaware of the issues in the marketing sector. As Balsillie tried to evade responsibility, Lazaridis found himself alone in facing the investors. In a final attempt to salvage the situation, Balsillie showcased another side of his character, frantically negotiating to save the company. However, realizing that their downfall was inevitable with the launch of Apple’s touchscreen iPhone, both Balsillie, and Lazaridis understood the significant losses they were about to face. Eventually, Balsillie’s relentless pursuit of success came to an end when Lazaridis handed him over to the SEC. He realized that his aggressive strategies had led to his downfall, and he lost the unquestionable authority he once held within the company. Despite feeling upset about the situation, Balsillie understood that he could not turn back time. Following his resignation from BlackBerry Limited, he managed to avoid imprisonment and all of his messages were kept secret on the Waterloo BlackBerry servers. However, he severed all ties with the company, bringing an end to his involvement once and for all.
What Happened To Douglas Fregin?
Among the serious and goal-oriented colleagues in BlackBerry Limited, Douglas (played by Matt Johnson) stood out as a character who had a very laid-back outlook on life and work. Though he was equally invested in the hard work of the establishment and the upgrade of BlackBerry, Douglas was never blinded by the glimmers of success and greed. He didn’t have that urge to make it all about the race. From the very beginning of the film, it was evident that he found contentment in his nerdy lifestyle, enjoying movie nights and the company of his dorky colleagues who shared his passion for Spielberg films.
Unlike his ambitious peer, Lazaridis, Douglas Fregin had a more cautious approach when it came to taking risks. He was aware of his own limits and knew how to establish boundaries to protect himself and his interests. However, despite his own risk-averse nature, Douglas never discouraged his friend from pursuing his ambitious goals or having high hopes for the future. As an employee of Research in Motion (RIM), Douglas held a great deal of self-respect that he was not willing to sabotage for the sake of success or for better opportunities. He detested Balsillie’s aggressive nature and bossy attitude but managed to coexist with him in the company for the sake of his friendship with Mike. Even though Jim had hurt his feelings several times, Doug showed his resilience and dedication to his job. Despite being a co-founder of RIM, Balsillie never gave Douglas the opportunity to take the forefront, and Mike, too, did not provide him with a platform. In fact, towards the end of the downfall, Balsillie even treats Douglas rudely, disregarding their close friendship. Overall, Douglas was portrayed as a mistreated character in the film.
Gradually, as BlackBerry’s success skyrocketed, a distance grew between Douglas and Mike. However, Douglas remained a loyal friend to Mike, even during the company’s decline. In reality, after the downfall of BlackBerry and Mike’s resignation from the company in 2012, Douglas stood by his side. Together, they co-founded Quantum Valley Investments. However, despite BlackBerry’s downfall leaving a huge impact on Doug’s psyche, he was quietly a billionaire, owning 2% of RIM, which was valued at $1.2 million. Nevertheless, Douglas remained a cool-headed individual who had a passion for racing cars, indulging in his hobby during his spare time. However, similar to Lazaridis and Balsillie, he eventually severed his ties with BlackBerry, and the company ceased producing BlackBerry phones after 2016.
Blackberry delivers powerful performances and a captivating plot that generates an adrenaline rush. Despite our prior knowledge of the story’s outcome, the film skillfully creates a mood that allows us to connect deeply with the characters’ struggles rather than focusing solely on their eventual failure. By presenting the characters in a very realistic way, the film allows the audience to relate to their plight and share in their sadness.
In my opinion, Blackberry effectively captures a crumbling world through the desperate efforts of its characters to salvage it. The storytelling is strong, leaving a lasting impact and provoking thoughtful contemplation, especially with its profound ending. One memorable scene features the directionless protagonist, Mike Lazaridis, standing in front of packages of BlackBerry phones as he attempts to salvage them. This scene encapsulates the beginning of the end for the company, leaving viewers with a sense of anticipation and uncertainty about its fate. Rather than providing a clear-cut ending for the company, the film chooses to leave audiences with a lingering sense of the challenges faced by the characters and the uncertain future that lies ahead.