Review: THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT Flaps Too Hard For Its Own Good

In a world where theaters are full of superhero films, action packed blockbusters, and cash grabs, films like The Hummingbird Project come as a welcome surprise. To market a premise based around high frequency trading seems like no simple feat. However, if there is enough enticement, akin to Adam McKay’s The Big Short, it could work. Kim Nguyen, writer and director of The Hummingbird Project, was able to pull it off in an entertaining, albeit puzzling manner. With a sharp script that moves relatively quickly and some great performances, The Hummingbird Project shows promise for originality above all.

The Hummingbird Project immediately throws the viewer into the story, although one quickly realizes it morphs into something larger. Vincent and Anton Zaleski are cousins with a literal “get rick quick” scheme. While complicated in the grand scheme of the film, the explanations are rather straightforward, and repeated more than once, to truly nail the plan home. Millions are made in a matter of milliseconds and everyone wants a piece of the pie. It’s just a matter of who can make them first, but unfortunately, these stakes are not felt. Vincent and Anton are in a race against time with their previous boss, played by Salma Hayek. Yet even though we understand her plight, it does not seem to resonate entirely. Her own actions occur almost entirely off screen and simply serve as a basic antagonistic device. Because of this, the stakes must come from elsewhere.

Salma Hayek as Eva Torres and Alexander Skarsgård as Anton Zaleski in Kim Nguyen’s THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT.

Luckily, the protagonists of the film feel fresh and are very entertaining. Jesse Eisenberg proves yet again why he is so capable of being a smarmy lead that moves at a mile a minute. He also proves his ability to become introspective by the end of the film. And even though it may not be fully warranted by the time it arrives, it remains impressive. Michael Mando is the lead engineer who does not have much to work with, yet provides some progression and comic relief. The star of the film is Alexander Skarsgård, as the reclusive Anton, who is at the crux of the most interesting themes the film promises. Anton raises many compelling dilemmas, yet none ever feel fully fleshed out. It’s these broad ideas that hurt The Hummingbird Project more than boost its credibility.

From the exploitation of the working class, running out of time, and corrupting nature for profit, Nguyen seems to have a lot to say. Yet all of these problems never feel fully sorted out by the finale. Even the resolution is almost nonexistent for the characters, and it feels puzzling altogether. Nguyen does not provide enough backbone to the problems to be satisfied with, and does not leave them ambiguous enough to promote discourse. Instead, the film remains in a middle ground of sorts, and it is unfortunate due to the subjects being so crucial in 2019. However, there are a few quotes that allow the audience to ponder, and the final quote of the film is one that will resonate for a few moments.

Michael Mando as Mark Vega and Jesse Eisenberg as Vincent Zaleski in Kim Nguyen’s THE HUMMINGBIRD PROJECT.

Still, The Hummingbird Project has a lot of flair that shines brightly throughout its runtime. The film is full of landscape shots that are absolutely beautiful. Paired with the constant juxtaposition of drills going to work on nature, the message is clear through its imagery. There are a few standout shots that the composition and lighting paint vivid pictures. The cinematography is a highlight of the film, and one that works subtly but powerfully. Editing was also crucial in this process coming across succinctly, and while questionable at times, it overall works. Some stylistic liberties are taken that could have been avoided and it is here that another problem shows itself.

Without a sense of glamour, the film would be rather dry and suffer greatly. Yet it does not need to be over the top in its delivery, and there are moments where it clearly crosses that line. From random slow motion to an office meltdown, The Hummingbird Project feels as if it is compensating. Luckily, a third act twist brings some attention back to the film, yet it may arrive too late. With some refinement, one can wonder what this film would look like if it remained more to the point. Overall, The Hummingbird Project simultaneously feels ambitious and very limited. However, due to its originality and entertainment at face value, its an enjoyable film that deserves some recognition.

Are you excited for The Hummingbird Project? What are you most looking forward to? Let us know in the comments below!

The Orchard will be releasing The Hummingbird Project in theaters on March 15th.

By Alex Papaioannou

Born and raised in New York. I've always loved all things pop culture, but my true passion lies within film. And the only thing that I love more than watching movies is writing about them! Some close runner-ups are: food, the Yankees, and hip-hop.

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