Movie Review: Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs is a technically accomplished movie backed by clever dialogue and great performances, but its kinetic film-making is hampered by a limiting plot structure that turns the unconventional biopic into a repetitive and hollow drama.

Set backstage at three iconic product launches and ending in 1998 with the unveiling of the iMac, Steve Jobs takes us behind the scenes of the digital revolution to paint an intimate portrait of the brilliant man at its epicenter. [Universal Pictures]

Truth be told, Steve Jobs is a good salesman who made billions by repackaging other people’s ideas, not the tech genius many are led to believe. Also, he is a douchebag.

In this 3rd retelling, Aaron Sorkin and Danny Boyle take their turn in demystifying  Steve jobs by delivering the self-aggrandizing movie he deserves.

The sharp focus on three keynote speeches cum product launches offer an exhilarating peek into three highlights of Steve Jobs’ career. Production design and film formats bring to life every period – 16mm for 1984, 35mm for 1988, and high-definition digital for 1998. Tracking shots turn the plot into a don’t-blink-or-you’ll miss sequence, with a sense of urgency at every turn. You’ll feel as if you’re sprinting after Steve Jobs as he demands and commands, perfecting every little detail laws and lives be damned. “If a fire causes a stampede to the unmarked exits, it’ll have been well worth it for those who survive,” Jobs says as he forces one of his employees to turn off the exit signs during a key montage in his presentation. 

While Michael Fassbender looks nothing like Steve Jobs, he perfectly embodies the antagonistic persona of the self-righteous tech guru, an image lifted from various accounts. He’s able to portray an uncompromising authoritative jerk without falling into histrionics by delivering Sorkin’s dialogue with the right rhythm, resulting into a sustained and fascinating performance. This is matched by equally great performances from the rest of the cast. Notably, Kate Winslet as the voice of reason in Joanna Hoffman, providing the needed relief from all the douchebaggery in display; Micheal Stuhlbarg as the well meaning programmer in Andy Hertzfeld, delivering a wry sense of humor and Seth Rogen as the under-appreciated inventor, portraying an easily likeable Steve Wozniak that made a quotable line all the more memorable.

All of this results to an engaging movie that makes every scene feel important. However, there’s a more important question that needs to be answered: should we care?

The movie’s plot structure makes it hard to do so. It’s split into three disparate chunks with a revolving door of characters in three different periods, chucking aside narrative coherence and character development.

This is the third film abut Steve Jobs but there’s nothing different from what we already know. The fictionalized story doesn’t provide any insight from the lauded genius about his products. As the plot breezes through each sequence with rapid fire dialogue, the jargon about components can get confusing.

In its barest essentials, the movie plays out like a three act play about a jerk with no redeeming qualities but with a keen eye on what sells. Sure he cared about changing the monolithic and expensive world of computing, but in the end it’s all about how many units of iMac will be sold in the first week. He did patched it up with his daughter, but it’s too little too late and predictably timed for the movie’s main highlight.

Despite these flaws, the movie still managed to accomplish what it set out to do – reveal the huckster behind the innovator. Sorkin made a brave decision to eschew conventional storytelling that would have come close to the standard biopic fanfare that the Ashton Kutcher led movie has already provided.

Steve Jobs may not be the right history lesson that Millennials need to learn about the man behind their favorite accessory, but it does manage to create a captivating display of douchebaggery that changed their lives.

My Rating: 7/10

3 Comments Add yours

  1. CineMuse says:

    “captivating display of douchebaggery”…ouch! I enjoyed reading your frank review but I wonder if you are being rather unkind in your assessment. The film is actually a psychological bio-pic of some value to those who like to look beyond obvious labels. While I can see why you use the word douchebag, it neglects the back-story of a very insecure and complex human being, who, unlike most who have walked on this planet, has left an enduring legacy. I found you via the Movie Addicts Union; maybe you’d like to read my review of Mr Jobs. I’m now following you.

    1. I understand your point, but the movie doesn’t show us anything about “the back-story of a very insecure and complex human being”, so I can only write about what’s in the film. Thanks for the follow!

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