Thrill-less thriller about stock market opportunists gets zero stars
I have been reviewing movies off and on for 40 years, and in that time I have likely seen several thousand feature films. I have always made it a practice, for both written reviews and advisories for friends, to try to find something in any movie, no matter how disappointing, to recommend.
On extremely rare occasions, that is simply not possible. Add The Hummingbird Project to that short, dishonorable list. A thriller without any thrills, an ostensible social commentary with nothing to say, it is an utterly unredeemable film. My only question after sitting through it was whoever thought making this story into a film was a good idea?
The Hummingbird Project, set in the early 2010s, focuses on two cousins languishing in the investment business: Vinnie (Jesse Eisenberg) is a restless trader, his cousin Anton (Alexander Skarsgard) appears to be some sort of tech savant. I can’t offer many more details about these characters’ backstories and motivations because none is provided in the ludicrous, hole-filled screenplay of Director Kim Nguyen.
Fed up with their demanding, egotistical boss Eva (Salma Hayek), the two plot to build a fiber-optic cable from Kansas City to Manhattan in order to shave a few nanoseconds off the travel time of stock information, allowing them and their investors to get a jump on other traders. Do they have any motivation for this beyond unadulterated greed? No.
The rest of the film is taken up with depicting—in exhausting and uninteresting detail—a thousand-mile construction project with all of its clichéd challenges and set-backs. But their progress is not compelling, it is tedious and repetitive. And overall, the viewer cannot get invested in their success or failure because they are dislikable characters who lack the sort of noble cause to justify breaking many laws and cruelly taking advantage of many, many other people. How can you possibly sympathize with characters who threaten and swear at an Amish farmer!
Moreover, their scheme hinges on a concept that goes way beyond far-fetched to the realm of ridiculously implausible. For a screenplay filled with technobabble about electronic equipment tolerances and drilling techniques, even the details are sloppily unconvincing. Nguyen’s directing is equally slack and disjointed. And, despite a few clever transition shots, the cinematography is as dreary as the subject matter.
Eisenberg has made a specialty out of playing testy, self-absorbed characters (Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, the vain lead magician in Now You See Me), but he usually has other, more enjoyable performers around him to modulate his petulance. Here, the normally talented Skarsgard and Hayek are wasted in ill-drawn roles.
Movies like this make me angry. It is so difficult to produce any film in modern Hollywood that I find it offensive when one such as this disaster wastes precious resources and audience bandwidth at the expense of another, better movie that didn’t get made.
Do yorself a favor. Spend your money on another, more worthy film. The Hummingbird Project would be a bad investment of your time and attention.
The Hummingbird Project: 0 out of 5 Stars
Also opening in April: Zachary Levi stars in a superhero comedy, Shazam, April 5; Hellboy, a graphic novel remake with David Harbour inheriting Ron Perlman’s horns, April 12; Little Woods, a tense family drama with Tessa Thompson and Lily James, April 19; and the much-anticipated climax to the current Marvel Avengers story arc, The Avengers: Endgame, April 26.