The first thing you need to know about The Hummingbird Project is that it’s not based on true events. This was never claimed by the movie and I imagined it completely. From the trailer to Alexander Skarsgard’s hairstyle and the general storyline, everything seemed like something that really happened. Written and directed by Kim Nguyen, best known for his war drama Rebelle, this is an easygoing thriller with a lot of humor. Just think of movies like American Hustle, The Big Short, or The Social Network and you’ll know where you at. With the story so similar to these movies, it’s easy to see where they were going with it.
The cast was great with confident Jesse Eisenberg and always intriguing Alexander Skarsgard. However, you shouldn’t expect any miracles here. The story kinda falls apart in the final third, drowning in a lot of cliches. Only phenomenal performances by our leads along with Salma Hayek and Michael Mando saved it from becoming an average television movie from the eighties. Our homeboy Nguyen read Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt and decided to make a movie about it. The book is about high-frequency trading in the US equity market, written by Michael Lewis. The official movie still in developmental hell with lapsed Sony rights currently owned by Netflix.
Vincent and Anton are two cousins working for a company that specializes in high-frequency trading. The company is run by Eva Torres, a ruthless CEO always looking to make a few extra billion. Anton is a very talented coder and his job is to make their network as fast as he can. Mostly because in this world of HFT if someone is faster just by a millisecond it means a lot. While Vincent has a more practical approach and this is how he convinces Anton that the two of them can revolutionize the market. However, that will prove to be much more difficult than they ever imagined.
As a sucker for new technologies, I loved the technical aspect of The Hummingbird Project. And I should also tell you that large portions of this movie are dedicated to exactly that. Stuff like computer programming, drilling, and all the details about fiber and optic cables. I found the whole thing interesting, like a secret door to the hidden world of technology. On the other hand, I’m certain there are at least a couple of shows or documentaries about this subject.
Everything looks and feels authentic. From their computers and servers to optic cables and this is no accident. Belden, one of the big shots in the manufacturing of fiber optics trained the cast. They learned how to properly run and set up their network. I think a lot of movies get this part wrong and it sort of ruins the illusion. At least for some of us smug techies.
This is one of the main reasons why I think you should check out The Hummingbird Project. Plus you also get to see Mr. Skarsgard Junior as Anton Zaleski, a bald and awkward computer programmer. His performance here was truly magnificent, maybe because his roles were too similar so far. As I mentioned earlier, the movie keeps the momentum going, and this sort of helps with the bleak and disjointed final third with a couple of lame-ass scenes and forced story arcs.
There are also a couple of redeeming moments that could have elevated the movie. With the emphasis on the words could have because they didn’t stray from the whole “big, classical storytelling” thing. So, hopefully, now you know what kind of movie this is and whether you should check it out. My work here is done, enjoy.
Director: Kim Nguyen
Writer: Kim Nguyen
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Mando, Salma Hayek, Johan Heldenbergh, Sarah Goldberg
Fun Facts: Jesse Eisenberg memorized the entire script before the filming began.