The Hummingbird Project follows Vincent (Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton (Alexander Skarsgard), two cousins who are players in the lucrative world of high-frequency stock trading. Looking for any advantage, their dream is to build a straight fiber-optic cable line between Kansas and New Jersey in the hopes that the extra milliseconds will make them rich. While Anton may be the brains, Vincent is the hustler and, as a team, they believe they can change the world (and their fortunes). However, when their vicious former employer Eva Torres (Salma Hayek) discovers their plans, she sets out on a mission to not only bring them down but also to crush their dreams.
Written and directed by Kim Nguyen (Rebelle, Two Lovers and a Bear), The Hummingbird Project is an engaging film that combines character drama with an intense race against time (and progress). While Hayek and Eisenberg’s performances are solid, it’s Skarsgard that steals the film as the anxiously-afflicted genius, Anton. As Anton, Skarsgard imbues the film with a charismatic strength that plays well off of Vincent’s wildly, erratic nature. Though both battling internal struggles, the two men have solid chemistry onscreen as both fight to protect one another from mounting pressures from the outside.
Focusing on the high-stakes world of stock trading, it would be unsurprising to many that The Hummingbird Project is incredibly interested in speed. Whether it’s the speed of out-selling the competition or attempting to outrun the speed of progress, the film exists in a world where a matter of milliseconds feels like days. However, it’s in the midst of these brief milliseconds that Nguyen emphasizes the need for space to slow down. Though tasked with shaving a mere millisecond off their download time, Anton gradually begins to lose touch with his own family. Meanwhile, obsessed with securing the land rights and the multi-million dollar contract that lies before him, Vincent completely ignores his own personal issues, putting his life at risk in the process.
Believing themselves to be digital Davids poised to bring down the Goliath of Wall Street, the two men fight tirelessly to stay ahead of the game in their efforts to find fiber-optic fortune. In the process, however, they run the risk of losing their souls. (Incidentally, the use of the term ‘soul’ is absolutely intentional here as the film bookends this notion beautifully through their interactions with a local Amish community that ‘stands in their way’.) While taking on Wall Street seems like the path to both financial and personal freedom, is the cost to Anton and Vincent too high?
Does David really need to slay Goliath to prove his worth?
Skillful direction anchored by strong performances from its stars, The Hummingbird Project is an entertaining and sometimes intense look at what it means to take on the world—and whether or not it’s worth the risk.
The Hummingbird Project is in theatres on March 15th, 2019
For full audio of our interview with director Kim Nguyen, click here.