The Hummingbird Project chronicles a quest of unfathomable proportions. Unfathomably boring proportions. “We’re building a four-inch pipe from Kansas to New Jersey!” just isn’t a catchy idea, no matter which actors are prostrating themselves trying to sell the damn thing. A little tepidity is acceptable when you’re retelling true events, but Hummingbird Project can’t even hide behind the veneer of a true story.
The fact that the film is still halfway watchable is a testament to the craft of those involved; Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård both give it their all in what is essentially a typecasting swap. As Vincent Zaleski, the slimy yet dedicated artful dodger at one end of the pipe, Eisenberg is still confidently uncomfortable, putting his specific brand of slow-burn mania to good use. On the flipside, Skarsgård goes all-out on the balding, potbellied transformation as the socially awkward Anton. The film handles Anton’s obvious difficulties clumsily, but Skarsgård just the right level of pathos and grit to counterbalance Hummingbird’s wonkier moments.
It’s a two-man show, but Michael Mando and Salma Hayek claw out their own impressive performances. Mando isn’t given much, but his relationship with Vincent hints at a better movie at that end of the pipe. Hummingbird has a similar problem with Hayek; she does a great Cruella de Vil, but sidelining her is the wrong pitch. The movie might have been better off if it had focused in on her character Eva Torres – there aren’t many Hispanic CEOs on Wall Street, and a lot of story potential is washed down the drain.
Despite some interesting ideas and a stellar cast, The Hummingbird Project is crushed by a mundane premise. If fibre optic was that interesting Marvel would have made two superhero franchises about it by now.
CAST: Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek, Michael Mando
DIRECTOR: Kim Nguyen
WRITER: Kim Nguyen
SYNOPSIS: A pair of high-frequency traders go up against their old boss in an effort to make millions in a fibre-optic cable deal.