In THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT, two tech-savvy entrepreneurs want to construct a thousand-mile-long fiber-optic cable that runs in a straight line from Kansas to New Jersey. That basic premise becomes the backbone of an unusual film that feels as though it should be inspired by real-life events, even though it is actually a work of fiction.
Written and directed by Kim Nguyen, the film is an intriguing genre hybrid with an all-star cast. Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård play the cousins at the center of the plot. As they work to make an increasingly impossible dream come true, we’re left astounded by the actions they’ll take in pursuit of success.
Making Millions the Easy Way
Anton and Vincent Zaleski come from a Russian family out of New York. Anton is a socially awkward master coder, while Vincent is an opportunistic salesman who excels at spotting unexpected opportunities. Together they come up with an idea so insane it sounds truer than fiction. It’s based on high-frequency trading, which relies on rapid-fire trades of tiny dollar amounts — with sums that stack up fast.
So, if a fiber-optic cable connected a core electronic exchange in Kansas to Wall Street’s New Jersey data bank, the cousins can make enough money to be set for life. That is, if Anton can create a code that reduces communication time by a millisecond or so (about the speed of a hummingbird’s single wingbeat).
The programming challenge might not even be the biggest obstacle to success. When the guys resign from their current jobs, they earn the ire of their old boss, Eva (Salma Hayek), and soon find themselves struggling to contend with corporate espionage.
The Hustler and the Genius
THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT is a story of greed and ambition, written in the context of the digital age. The script doesn’t attempt to dumb down the Zaleskis’ plan, creating an eccentric thriller that exists on the margins of a world we think we know.
Eisenberg is no stranger to this kind of role, and at first glance, he seems to be playing close to his star turn in THE SOCIAL NETWORK. His character in THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT is a whole lot darker, however. He’s got a devious side that his cousin doesn’t suspect. Skarsgård’s Anton is far more vulnerable. He doesn’t want to get rich; he’s really a genius who wants to create a superior product. Skarsgård is almost unrecognizable as the stooped, balding tech whiz who gradually finds his moral compass.
(Almost) Too Crazy to Be Fiction
THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT shines a light on just how ridiculous modern capitalism can be. It’s brilliant, really. The central idea is so off the wall that it feels like something people would actually attempt.
The story explores the damage greed can do, especially when it becomes an obsession. Vincent compares what he’s trying to achieve with David going out to slay Goliath. He’s fighting to prove that the little guys can make it. Eventually, we realize it’s not enough to beat Goliath. You have to deserve that win for it to mean something — and to make sure you don’t become your own enemy.
THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT comes to AMC theatres on March 15.