By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Tech wars is the material of modern legend, but at its core, the song remains the same. Money talks and b.s. walks. These are tge central themes of this indie drama by Kim Nguyen starring Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård. Not only does greed corrupt, but it also turns brilliant people into monsters. Occasionally, Nguyen’s examination of a tech war is a bit on the nose, but aside from this, he makes what could have been a dull subject into an infectiously compelling movie. Couple with some tremendous performances by its lead actors, The Hummingbird Project is a riveting film that deserves some love.
Eisenberg and Skarsgård star as cousins Vincent and Anton Zaleski. Anton has a brilliant mind, while Vincent has a natural gift of gab. The two have worked well together to get themselves employed by a successful tech firm. They have their ambitions set higher, though. Both Vincent and Anton want to make a major communication breakthrough in the world of stock market communications. Their dream is to be the only name in the high speed game by running a fiber optic cable between Wall Street and another farther-away market. However, to maximize their profit level, they must resign and screw over their current employer. When their ruthless boss Eva Torres (Salma Hayek) figures out their game, she uses all of her powers and resources to destroy the cousins. The competition becomes a race against time, money and power before the victor relishes in the spoils.
Written and directed by Kim Nguyen, The Hummingbird Project is a such an effective film that it will have audiences rooting for its protagonists up until a certain point. It is when the lead characters must make some moral decisions when one realizes why, win or lose in the end, the result is not necessarily a victory. Though the material is occasionally obvious, Nguyen and his cast create an indelible sense of urgency that really drives the picture.
It also certainly helps that, despite their character flaws, the protagonists have their more charming qualities as well. Jesse Eisenberg may portray a b.s. artist in this film, but the writing and his exceptional acting really sells his case. As for Alexander Skarsgård, he portrays a highly lovable savant who may lack some social skills, but obviously has a big heart and amazing mind. Skarsgård does an extraordinary job here, and totally plays the ingenious character to a tee. Salma Hayek gives an effective gurn as the tough and utterly mean Eva Torres. Michael Mando also gives a great performance as Mark Vega, the man in charge of the digging involved in this ambitious undertaking.
And I must say, though I hace not seen any of Kim Nguyen’s previous work, I was impressed by this movie. Filmmakers who can take a seemingly uninteresting subject and really sell it well definitely earn my respect. The Hummingbird Project may not get a lot of attention when it opens, but trust me, it is a movie worth one’s time.