“THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT” stars Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek and Michael Mando. Written and directed by Kim Nguyen, this story revolves around the world of high-frequency trading. Where milliseconds in speed, can equal millions of dollars. Something that two traders who happen to be cousins, are well aware of as they set out to build a straight fiber-optic line from Kansas to the New York Stock Exchange. This would give them a fraction of a second advantage over their competitors as well as virtually putting their former tyrant of a boss out of business.
This was an interesting story-concept to me and with the addition of a solid cast, I was more than intrigued. I hoped for a fresh plot-line and a collection of compelling characters, with strong performances to back them up. And I would say this movie for the most part, delivered on nearly all of those facets. This turned out to be a fascinating film in large sections with more than enough layers to entertain. The premise alone of a straight fiber-optic line being built across many states. Directly through a variety of terrain types was an ambitious feat to accomplish for this small group. Let alone trying to pull it off somewhat under the radar, and their underdog story have me engaged.
I thought it built genuine curiosity and solid intrigue in how they would pull it off, and more important if they could. To accomplish this wild plan the characters had a lot of work to do. There are a ton of varying factors and moving pieces needed to get this job done and throughout the film I thought there was a nice attention put into the logistics of things. It would seem like a chaotic and stressful mess to undertake a task like this. Which I thought the layers of the story effectively captured. The swings in moods between the characters, the impact this operation took on them, and many other emotional dynamics were peeled back in a timely way which gave the story a nice balance. It helped me connect with the fatigue of the job they were doing and it naturally made me more invested in the narrative.
I thought the performances were all solid but none really blew me away. Not all of the characters were as unique as I was expecting. Jesse Eisenberg certainly worked for the role and the needs of the story. I wouldn’t say he necessarily captured a true ‘character performance’ though. Meaning he very much felt not only like Jesse Eisenberg, but like the Eisenberg we have seen frequently in recent years. Like I said though, for the case of this story and his imprint on it, I think he provided a very capable portrayal of a man desperate to accomplish a task. But I do think a little more nuance to the character-type would’ve been beneficial, and gone a long way in generating a strong connection with the viewer.
I would have to say the same for Salma Hayek. She was very good in this role as a shark of a boss that pulls no punches and never hesitates. A character that was smart, and cunning. One that was strong willed and determined, with an aggressive personality. There was an attitude to the character that brought the energy of this story up a bit each time she was on-screen, so for that aspect she was a strong factor. But at the same time, it was an attitude I’ve seen many times from Hayek in past performances. And while it works for the character in this story much like it did for Eisenberg. This familiarity also failed to grab me like I had hoped for given multiple characters felt uninspired from a personality aspect. Yet I have to say, watching familiar faces, giving familiar performances was far from a deal-breaker for this movie in being able to entertain.
Alexander Skarsgård however was fantastic in his role. He disappeared into the character, but it wasn’t just from appearances. I felt Skarsgård did a great job of giving this character some uniqueness, fresh eccentricities, and emotional patterns that were unlike his own. This was the character I connected with the most. Despite Eisenberg’s character having a very poignant arc. It was the sincerity in the character from Skarsgård and his performance that grabbed me to the point where he was the main character in my mind. He had an authentic chemistry with everyone, and Skarsgård’s performance is the reason why.
But while this movie had many positives going for it. It felt lacking in some energy and I guess you could say some purpose at times. It felt surprisingly close to formulaic during sections of the story progression and how certain sub-plots were told. The main story-line and the smaller plot arcs, despite all being mildly unique on their own, were woven together with a familiar pattern. It was very subtle but as the film continued and I learned more about them. Learned more about their relationship dynamics. The complications of the job, and all the risks involved. I just couldn’t feel the weight of everything despite the story maintaining my interest. I also think a lack of smooth continuity throughout the story didn’t help either because there were noticeable gaps in time where it felt like there was information to be told.
Overall though, I enjoyed this movie. I thought it was very creative in large doses. It had me interested throughout. I do think it was a story blended from both unique, and recycled story tropes. But when put together it all works enough for an engaging film with moments of heart and emotion, capable writing, and charismatic performances in flashes. It was certainly was fun to see these actors placed together. And while this movie may not knock-your-socks-off by leaving a major lasting impression. It will entertain if you like these types of story-lines centered around financial crimes.