Fresh Spin On Greed Tale;
Makes Flawed Concept Engaging;
And Sticks The Landing.
Is it possible to make a good, engaging film about something as inherently mundane as laying fiber optic cable underground in a straight line? As it turns out, yes it is. Kim Nguyen has written and directed something that, while flawed, is of high quality and delivers the type of feel and approach you usually don’t see in films based on greed stories.
My main hangup was that the script (which isn’t based on a true story, as some may think) hinges on an idea that I just don’t find believable. The idea that this crew could somehow secure the land rights and financing for this massive of a project pushes back against my willful suspension of disbelief. But once I set that notion aside and enjoyed the film for what it was, I found it fairly rewarding.
Jesse Eisenberg (his typical squirrely self) and Alexander Skarsgård play cousins Vincent and Anton Zaleski, respectively, and each of them nails their role as they stick together but present very different characters driven by different motivations toward the same goal. For Vincent, the idea of building a line capable of delivering stock quotes one millisecond faster than everyone else represents unlimited financial potential and the chance to do something major with his life. For Anton, it’s about cracking the code, as he tries to put everything in his life inside boxes he can exert some control over. Vincent demands too much of people, especially his cousin (who often gets the worst of Vincent), and Anton can be a pushover until he can’t bottle himself up anymore and explodes. Their scenes together can be fascinating to watch, and Skarsgård especially carries a lot of the weight. Not to be left behind, Michael Mando also gives a very strong turn as Mark Vega, the project manager (and eventual friend to both men), and proves himself more than a TV bit player here. Late scenes between Vincent and Anton and Vincent and Mark are especially great and really up the ante in the third act, elevating the work by a considerable margin.
Nguyen handles the story with confidence, knowing that he has to deliver something that draws the audience in despite a premise that, on paper, sounds anything but exciting. He gives us a movie about greed and its effect on families, friends and business relationships without taking a route of cheap thrills, hotshot brokers and sexed-up imagery that wouldn’t have served the story. This isn’t a film made to amp you up with excitement and make you feel good; its intentions seem quite the opposite and the experience benefits from that approach.
The Hummingbird Project can be a raw and real look at the cost of determination. It moves along at a solid pace and ends on a beautifully framed and melancholy shot that is bound to make you think.
The Hummingbird Project is Written and Directed By Kim Nguyen
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