The Hummingbird Project
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Michael Mando, Sarah Goldberg, Anna Maguire, Frank Schorpion, Johan Heldenbergh, Kwasi Songui, Aiysha Issa and Salma Hayek
Written and directed by Kim Nguyen
Rated: 14A for coarse language and substance use
Runtime: 111 minutes
Playing at Cineplex Odeon North Edmonton starting Thursday, March 21
In the stock market world of high frequency trading where millions of dollars can be gained or lost in a fraction of a second, there’s only one way to get any kind of advantage over others: beat them to the information by a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a second.
That’s the fantastic yet somehow plausible premise behind Montreal director Kim Nguyen’s new film, The Hummingbird Project, so named because the speed at which its heroes are hoping to move data is measured as fast as a wing-beat of such a hyper winged beast.
For those who are unfamiliar with Nguyen’s oeuvre, he is very good at creating indelible portraits of characters at the crossroads. See his fantastic and gripping Rebelle (a.k.a. War Witch – nominated for the 2012 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film) and the equally uplifting and heart-wrenching romantic survival drama Two Lovers and a Bear (a must watch for any two people in love, no matter the baggage they’ve brought to their relationship).
Here, Nguyen – again writing as well as directing – brings us the story of the young and very enterprising Vincent Zaleski (Jesse Eisenberg) who has a power play that will take a bit of work to pull off. The idea: establish a razor-straight four-foot fibre-optic line that runs for 1,000 miles between Kansas and New York. It’s actually the idea of his cousin Anton (Alexander Skarsgård) who has the high level math all figured out. Vincent is the convincer, since the line will naturally cross property lines of private homeowners, state parks and farms.
It’s not just a wild scheme that would certainly take a lot of ingenuity and conviction to pull off. They’re also in a race against time with their former boss Eva Torres (Salma Hayek) who has a plan of her own. The two sides are in mortal combat and sabotage can take many forms in such a contest.
This isn’t just a movie about Wall Street, though. It’s about ambition and greed, and Eisenberg’s frenetic energy offers just the right mix of youthfulness and being driven to the point of being recklessness and immoral in the pursuit of such a lofty, obscure dream. It’s a wonderful performance that’s complemented beautifully by Skarsgård, whose nerdy Anton has a scene of comic brilliance when he figures out that the math will work to realize the dream. Hayek, for her part, seems typecast for how well she plays the ruthless Torres. At some point, I wished that this movie would just go on and on for how they all played off of each other, too. Simply a marvellous film experience.
Nguyen has an assured hand that has already proven itself with dramas that look into the hearts of his characters. I feel like he’s moving up in Hollywood, making powerplays of his own, as we see now that he can still deftly handle such films with stars like Hayek, Eisenberg and Skarsgård on the cast list. I can’t wait to see what he does next.
Read Scott Hayes’s interview with director Kim Nguyen online at www.stalberttoday.ca.