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The Hummingbird Project

Opening Date
21 Mar 2019
NC16 Coarse Language
111 mins
English with no subtitles
Kim Nguyen
Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek
In this modern epic, Kim Nguyen exposes the ruthless edge of our increasingly digital world. Cousins from New York, Vincent (Academy Award nominee Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton (Alexander Skarsgård) are players in the high-stakes game of High-Frequency Trading, where winning is measured in milliseconds. Their dream? To build a straight fiber-optic cable line between Kansas and New Jersey, making them millions. But nothing is straightforward for this flawed pair. Anton is the brains, Vincent is the hustler, and together they push each other and everyone around them to the breaking point with their quixotic adventure. Constantly breathing down their necks is their old boss Eva Torres (Academy Award nominee Salma Hayek), a powerful, intoxicating and manipulative trader who will stop at nothing to come between them and beat them at their own game. No matter what the cost, Vincent and Anton are determined to cut through America, only to find redemption at the end of their line, not through money, but through family and reconnecting to the land.
By Razi  25 Mar 2019
The Hummingbird Project is a financial techno-thriller that features a fast-talking, poker-faced Eisenberg, a near-unrecognizable Skarsgård and American landscapes rarely seen on screen.
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This is a film about high-frequency trading that centres on finding the means to a superior ultra-low latency direct market access technology. If you didn’t process a word of that, then like me, you’re here for Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård.
In simpler terms, Eisenberg plays a wheeler-dealer types who enlists the help of techie cousin (a balding Skarsgård) to build an algorithm for a direct fibre-optic line from Kansas to New York that will create a unique competitive advantage for traders (read: lots of money). Salma Hayek dons the bombastic role of a greying, high-powered ex-boss who understandably gets in their way. Things get complicated when they realize that there’s a lot more at stake as they get closer to their goal.
The story is labelled a financial techno-thriller, but it mostly plays across as a slow-burn character drama about flawed individuals unraveling from insurmountable odds. The storytelling choices, however, make the film a challenge to appreciate for anyone expecting compelling tension or inspiring montages on a trading floor. Instead, it delves into themes that caution the wanton pursuit of wealth and obsession.
The performances from its leads are absorbing and restrained for the most part. Eisenberg anchors the story with his usual fast-talking, poker-faced enigma while a near-unrecognizable Skarsgård plays off-type as a more subdued genius with a fragile interior. Michael Mando (who plays Nacho from Better Call Saul) lends weight as a crafty ally to the pair, but deep down, you find yourself suspecting foul play abound thanks to the roles he usually takes on. Salma Hayek, on the other hand, phones in an unlikeable persona as a single dimensional antagonist who represents the ugly side of Wall Street.
The real winner in this film is the location scout and cinematographer, who have contributed to a spellbinding record of sprawling American landscapes rarely seen on screen. Through these varied terrains, director Kim Nguyen labours through an uneven, low-key morality tale based on a well-researched but idiosyncratic premise about the avarice of modern society.
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