The Hummingbird Project
The latest feature from Canadian filmmaker Kim Ngyuen, The Hummingbird Project stars Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgard as cousins Vinnie – an ambitious go-getter way over his head – and Anton – an introverted genius – on a mission to build a fibre wire line from Kansas to New York in order to make millions on the stock market by creating the fastest data connection, while their former boss (Selma Hayek) aims to beat them at their own game. It’s a pretty strange premise for a thriller/comedy, and this is a pretty peculiar movie that’s a mixed bag of tonal clashes, clumsy writing and surreal humour – although it isn’t without its charms either.
With Eisenberg, Skarsgard, Hayek, and Michael Mando – a business partner of the cousins – on screen together, the talented cast give plenty of energy to the script and are delightful to watch together. Eisenberg, channelling aspects of Mark Zuckerberg, and Skarsgard gel fantastically well together and provide many of the film’s funniest and most human moments. Hayek, too, clearly relishes her villainous role; all she’s missing is a moustache to twirl or a cat to stroke while she monologues.
In spite of the exceptional performances, Ngyuen is unable to create anything with the script worthy of the talents on display. Much of the dialogue is dedicated to explaining what exactly high-frequency trading is to constantly justify the importance of 1ms, or spent with characters re-explaining what’s going on. When it comes to actual character development, with the exception of Skarsgard’s Anton, who’s established as the most interesting character, everyone else is very one note in their motivations; mostly to make money.
Stylistically, the film doesn’t fare much better. There’s a constant juggle between gritty thriller, family drama and bizarre comedy with undertones of Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street littered throughout. With a lack of commitment to each facet, though, the end result is more mediocre than anything else. And as events become more outrageous as the picture reaches its climax, without the proper groundwork completed, the mediocrity evolves into awkward and farcical, ending on an unenthusiastic whimper rather than a fanfare.
The Hummingbird Project is a niche film, to put it mildly. The central cast cannot be faulted in their performances and, although unlikely to gain mainstream appeal, there will be those who’ll find the tonal clashes more endearing than tiresome.
The Hummingbird Project is released nationwide on 14th June 2019.
Watch the trailer for The Hummingbird Project here: