The Hummingbird Project aims high, falls short

L to R: Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgard in The Hummingbird Project. Courtesy of The Orchard.

The Hummingbird Project is a pretty ambitious film and offers fine performances but the film as a whole falls pretty far short of expectations.

A pair of New York cousins, Vincent Zaleski (Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton Zaleski (Alexander Skarsgård in unrecognizable form), have big dreams.  This dream is building a straight fiber-optic cable line between Kansas and New Jersey.  Mark Vega (Michael Mando) is their pick to run things.  Despite the odds, the two aren’t going to stop anytime soon.  The two of them play High-Frequency Trading so milliseconds are very important to them.  They matter here because it marks the difference between winning or losing.

I’ll be honest here.  I’ve never really given much thought to what goes into giving us the internet.  This film doesn’t really do much as far as wanting to know more.  It offers more or less a flawed character study, what with Vincent being focused on the money and Anton, the coding.  The two of them seek to bring the best work out of each other but it comes with a cost.  On top of this, their previous boss, hedge fund manager Eva Torres (Salma Hayek), looms in the distance.  She wants nothing more than to win.  If it means offering several thousands, she’ll stop at nothing.

If we look at this from from a win-the-stock-market perspective, other films have told these kinds of stories better.  Even at that, this film is surprisingly not based on a true story.  Kim Nguyen’s screenplay attempts to merge the financial thriller with a drama.  Unfortunately, his attempts to do so have fallen quite short.  Some aspects may work as a thriller but even for a genre-hybrid film, it comes off as a bit of a mess.  We have a cancer subplot that almost feels like it’s thrown in the backseat almost as soon as it happens.  Rather than seek treatment, Vincent decides to keep on keeping on.  I feel like there could at least have been a stronger sense of urgency here.

This isn’t to say that Nguyen doesn’t have some strong ideas because he does.  It’s just unfortunate that they come off more so as a mess.  Nguyen misses a strong opportunity to offer a satire on the digital world.  Would anyone even notice if a transaction is a millisecond faster?  Chances are likely high that nobody would even bother to notice.

While The Hummingbird Project knowingly aims high, the film is a whole is largely forgettable by the end of the day.

CAST:  Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Mando, and Salma Hayek

Following the world premiere during the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival, The Orchard opens The Hummingbird Project in theaters on March 15, 2019. Grade: 2.5/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.