The Hummingbird Project probes into sticky, sharply topical ethical quandaries
Aaron YapReviews | 20 May 19
Two traders (Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgård) compete with their old boss (Salma Hayek) to land a massive deal in this drama thriller. It’s a bit too scattered, Aaron Yap writes, but it earns some comparisons to Steven Soderbergh and David Fincher’s The Social Network.
The Hummingbird Project has all the makings of a wicked moral thriller. Its probe into sticky ethical quandaries inherent in the unchecked tech-driven colossus that is the modern era is, undoubtedly, sharply topical stuff. But writer/director Kim Nguyen, a competent hand but lacking the superior formalist chops of a David Fincher to elevate and galvanise the material, only gets there in scattered fashion.
As such, the film is low-boil Soderbergh-lite, a strange, curious shrug of a movie that nevertheless compensates with decent performances and an uncannily persuasive veneer of verisimilitude. Yes, going into The Hummingbird Project cold, I did wonder whether what I was seeing was actually based on some nutty true story.
The Fincher connection is almost unavoidable, given the presence of Jesse Eisenberg. His turn as Vincent Zaleski, a high-frequency hustler executing a get-rich-quick fibre cabling scheme, has more than a few superficial similarities to his career-defining performance as Mark Zuckerberg in Fincher’s The Social Network. Eisenberg is the perfect actor to force us to keep up with Nguyen’s thick Wall Street-speak, and communicate the thrill of the trade, but his live-wire moxie can only do so much heavy lifting.
Elsewhere, Nguyen doubles down on ticking-clock frissons, oiling the plot with Zaleski’s hulking on-the-Rain Man-spectrum cousin Anton (Alexander Skarsgård) chasing those make-or-break milliseconds of lucrative data delivery. I can enjoy a bald, against-type Skarsgård nerding out as much as the next person, but he’s one of several elements, including a particularly schematic soul-searching development and Salma Hayek’s scene-devouring corporate rival, requiring a more graceful finessing of tone.
Little Woods is a story of two women doing their best.
Although, like many Netflix offerings, it can feel inconsequential.
Those with no interest can just keep walking.
There’s plenty to recommend in this increasingly paranoid sci-fi three-hander.
The idiosyncratic script, direction and style are all very English.
Apart from a few interesting wrinkles, this finale is business as usual