The world of high finance and all the competition that comes with it comes smashing together with a story of family and the search for meaning and legacy in The Hummingbird Project.
Set in the world of high frequency trading where billions of dollars are made in milliseconds, director Kim Nguyen has created the space for a compelling and thrilling piece of cinema. And while the thrill of the hunt and the desire to win at all costs does resonate within this work, the director takes another step and really focuses inward upon the characters that are present in this crazy story.
As an example of character acting at it’s finest, The Hummingbird Project draws out plenty of amazing talent and it’s headlining star is the always sensational Jesse Eisenberg. Known for his whip smart movement and motormouth performances, Eisenberg has made a place for himself in Hollywood with being able to portray the smartest guys in the room, and here he finds a character who fits his performance perfectly as the hot-headed Vincent Zaleski. Driven by an unwavering desire to succeed, and especially to succeed on his own, via his own merit, Vincent is headstrong, defiant, argumentative and determined to get what he wants out of life at any cost. In short, it’s a perfect fit for Eisenberg’s talents, and his character arc throughout this movie offers up something brand new and unique for his catalogue of credits and he absolutely holds the attention of the audience in front of him.
Joining Eisenberg in this crazy, high risk narrative is Swedish heartthrob Alexander Skarsgard, and he does an entire 360 switch-up here as Vincent’s cousin, and programming genius Anton Zaleski. Balding, introverted, possibly autistic and unfathomably intelligent, Anton is the genius behind Vincent’s plan and his desire to beat the market by a millisecond sets these cousins off on their journey. Skarsgard’s performance is unlike anything the actor has ever done before, and it’s a really reserved piece of acting from the perspective of an incredibly oddball character who fluctuates from extreme timidness to explosive rage at a moments notice. But unlike Eisenberg’s Vincent who is concerned with nothing but materialistic success, Anton desires a way to escape the fast paced world of trading and find some kind of peace with his life and this is where The Hummingbird Project gets interesting.
Bearing down on these two misfits is Selma Hayek as their brutal former boss Eva Torres, whose shark-like appearance and enormous ego is enough to scare the hell out of anyone. As Torres, Hayek is a reflection of the very worst parts of corporate America and materialistic culture, and her presence and assimilation into the role is something that really captures the audiences attention. She gives Vincent and Anton a real run for their money and it’s very interesting to watch this dynamic at play.
Kim Nguyen has a great style as a director and while The Hummingbird Project concerns the swanky offices of the New York skyline, the vast majority of the story takes place out in the unbroken wilderness of America and it’s here that we get an incredible juxtaposition of ideas and thematic underscores. Thanks to the cinematography of Nicolas Bolduc we have amazing shots of the beautiful Appalachian mountain ranges, and amongst all of this are a team of slick hustlers trying to undercut it all in the pursuit of profit. Narratively, it makes for some very interesting ideas and as an audience member you’ll find yourself contemplating on everything that is set before you. The film also gives it’s audience one hell of a shock thanks to its ending, and it’s a narrative twist that really switches everything up.
The Hummingbird Project is ultimately the tale of a pair of misfits who decided to take on the system and the trials and tribulations that fall upon them by doing it. It’s thought provoking and insightful and audiences will definitely come out of it having experienced something unique.
Image: Madman Films