You’d be forgiven if you thought that The Hummingbird Project was based on a true story, I certainly thought it was. Turns out however, that it is purely a product of director Kim Nguyen’s imagination; and, it’s basis in fiction rather than fact, immediately makes it a considerably less intriguing film.
The movie tells the story of cousins Anton (Alexander Skarsgård) and Vincent Zaleski (Jesse Eisenberg), playing the socially awkward genius with the ideas, and the fast-talking man with a plan respectively. First generation Americans born to Russian immigrant parents, Vincent and Anton are desperate to outsmart their former boss Eva Torres (Salma Hayek) and make it big in the world of high frequency trading.
To do this, the cousins must run a fibre-optics cable in a straight line from the Kansas City Exchange to the Wall Street databank in New Jersey, drilling under everything that is in the way. The cable, in theory, will give them a milliseconds’ edge over their competition and potentially make them millions of dollars.
The film doesn’t offer much in the way of an explanation as to why they want to do this, except for Anton wanting to buy a quiet house in the country and Vincent wanting to see “what’s at the end of the line”; with a David and Goliath reference thrown in for good measure.
While the movie does appear to be promising in the beginning- rapidly introducing characters and concepts; it fails to explain key theories until almost halfway through and introduces minor characters with no real explanation as to who they are or why they’re there.
The cast works hard to sell the story – Salma Hayek’s Eva Torres provides some much-needed entertainment in an otherwise dull film. Skarsgård fully commits to playing the socially awkward savant, complete with a balding head, glasses, bad posture and a comical, clumsy gait; and Jesse Eisenberg does what Jesse Eisenberg does best, playing the intense, improbable protagonist everyone loves to hate. But if there is one person who deserves praise, its Michael Mando. His performance as Mark Vega is flawless.
Mark, the only relatable character in the movie, is a well-intentioned contractor, in-charge of handling all the drilling that needs to be done as well as all of Vincent’s tantrums (of which there are many).
Ultimately The Hummingbird Project is the unfortunate victim of a tedious plot that underutilizes its cast and fails its audiences; and there is nothing that Eisenberg’s trademark smooth-talking can do to distract from that.
While the film will probably appeal to the very VERY tiny percentage of cinephiles who also happen to be interested in the stock market, I fail to see why it will appeal to anyone else.
Running Time: 111 Mins
Director: Kim Nguyen
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek
Distributor: Madman Films
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