Ashton Kutcher’s portrayal of messianic, Steve Jobs (1955-2011), the guru of “Apple” computer, is finer than anticipated: he masters the inimitable “walk”, “talk”, “physiognomy”. The difficulty of playing an icon; someone who has been lionized by humanity, is the level of his recognition; it is impossible not to compare the actor to the man, especially a person so recently, formidably in our midst; not enough time has evaporated for perspective to be jelled; for most, Steve Jobs presence is still pulsating, alive.
Referencing Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography, the first half of the film is terrific in addressing Job’s hippy phase, searching for meaning in India and LSD; casually discarding women; focusing on his relationship with Stephen Wozniak, co- founder of Apple, five years Job’s senior; engineering wizard, moral compass; Josh Gad radiates in the role and much of the fire in “Jobs” fizzles with his absence.
In 1980 “Apple” went public and Jobs at twenty-five was worth 200 million dollars; much of this wealth was due to the prescience of Mike Markkula, an Intel executive who invested 250 thousand dollars when the boys were still working out of the garage, of Job’s adoptive parents. Dermot Mulroney gives a quiet, at times tormented performance, as a man perpetually focused on the bottom line; financial effectiveness of the company.
The second half of the film looses its pungency, burdened with Job’s vicissitudes with his Board; the failure of “Lisa” (his second project that hemorrhaged funds from its inception); his ouster from Apple and eventual reinstatement.
“Jobs” eliminates the deification of a man driven to succeed, a man whose aptitude reverberates worldwide; he is the quintessential business man, profit is the measure of success; he was intransigent, heartless, myopic when employees (including friends) did not measure up to his standards.
Unfortunately, the film does not concentrate on what set him apart from the fray: iPod, iTunes, iPods, SmartPhone; 2001 opening of free standing Apple Stores; the genius of his relationship with Pixar (graphics group); a 1986 investment, sold to Disney in 2006 for 7.4 billion dollars, in stock.
Steve Jobs was the “Einstein” of the modern age; a man whose technological clairvoyance transcended all who preceded him; he was a man of and for the people. In perpetuity, his name will be carved on a monument of eminence, unlikely to be replicated.