The Hummingbird Project (2018) Poster

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Worth watching, I ended with a smile.
suripat21 June 2019
I liked this movie a lot. Don't pay much attention to ratings, watch it and decide for yourself, I'm glad I did that. Good movie.
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a dancing Skarsgard is not enough
ferguson-621 March 2019
Greetings again from the darkness. More. Better. Faster. Most industries have those goals, and this story from French-Canadian writer-director Kim Nguyen focuses on high-frequency stock traders ... particularly a race between two competitive firms to cut one millisecond off the processing time. We learn that one millisecond is roughly one flap of a hummingbird wing (hence the film's title).

We also learn that one millisecond can translate into hundreds of millions in profits, which is why cousins Vincent and Anton walk away from their jobs at the Eva Torres brokerage firm to pursue their dream of shaving that single millisecond. Vincent (Jesse Eisenberg) is the fast-talking visionary and deal-maker, while Anton (Alexander Skarsgard) is the computer programming whiz. Yes, you read that correctly. Sex symbol Skarsgard ("True Blood", "Big Little Lies") plays a paunchy, balding, computer nerd with zero social skills. He also delivers the film's most enjoyable dance moves ... it's a moment to which any programmer can relate.

If any of the above (other than Anton's dance) seems the least bit exciting or enticing, you should know that the bulk of the film deals with the digging and drilling (there's even a montage) required to lay the fiber optic cable that will allow this extra-quick data delivery. Their plan is to tunnel from Kansas City to New Jersey in a perfectly straight line. Because of this, we get conversations with homeowners, conversations with Amish, conversations with drilling experts, and conversations with those who want this to happen, and those who don't. Have you ever thought about drilling through a granite mountain that is located in the middle of a park? Neither have I, and I wouldn't have thought of it again if not for writing this review.

To clarify, this is a story that seems like it could be true, but isn't. Most of the screen time is devoted to either underground drilling, computer programming, or intellectual property. And while I'm sure each of these categories have their fans, most will agree the transfer to cinema does not come off especially entertaining. In fact, it's so dry that the filmmaker felt the need to include a cancer sub-plot in hopes that we might find Vincent a bit more appealing as a character. It should be noted that since his Oscar nomination for THE SOCIAL NETWORK, Mr. Eisenberg has displayed a remarkable lack of variation in the roles he's chosen and characters he's played. At this point, we mostly just find him annoying, rather than brilliant or even mildly interesting.

Salma Hayek plays Eva Torres, former boss of the cousins, and now laser-focused in not letting the boys win. Ms. Hayek is given relatively little screen time, and is portrayed as the villain ... although her goals are no different than Vincent's and Anton's. Michael Mando plays Mark Vega, the partner and drilling expert the boys choose to project manage this undertaking. Mr. Mando is best known as Nacho from both "Better Call Saul" and "Breaking Bad". Ayisha Issa brings a momentary jolt to the proceedings as a mountain driller, but the film simply drags when neither Mr. Skarsgard nor Ms. Hayek are on screen.

Technology is a very difficult topic to make visually entertaining. I'm not talking about the high-tech special effects that go into making the wildly successful superhero movies that are so popular these days. No, I'm referring to actual technology ... programming and data analysis. The list of technology-focused films includes: SNEAKERS, THE SOCIAL NETWORK, OFFICE SPACE, HACKERS, WAR GAMES, SWORDFISH, and THE IMITATION GAME. The best of these understood that the story around the technology was more vital than the actual programming being done. And all of them were wise enough to avoid drilling and digging. Then again, none of the others featured a dancing Skarsgard.
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The Skarsgard Project
KarenAM1 October 2018
The movie is projecting modern society's hunger to grasp more from life, to get richer and faster. While the story and pace of the movie is fast enough to keep our interest in it,the script however, feels a little dry. Imagery is just captivating and production design is on top. The highest praise I can think of the movie is Alexander Skaarsgard's acting - which is smart, emotional, funny and nothing he has done before. A supporting actor nomination is a possibility if the movie gets wider recognition and release.
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Offbeat, gripping cyber thriller, a tad patchy
PotassiumMan23 March 2019
Jesse Eisenberg and Alexander Skarsgard are entrepreneurs who undertake an audacious venture to deliver a fiber optic cable from Kansas to the New York Stock Exchange that is faster than all the other portals by just enough to make a staggering difference in market returns. In choosing to take this gamble, they wind up using valuable information obtained from working for their former boss (an effectively domineering Salma Hayek) whom they now find is their competition.

Although this is a well-acted film, its momentum is a bit erratic. The storyline never loses its energy but the plot sometimes takes peculiar detours. This ambitious enterprise is fraught with the emotional imbalance of its two dissimilar protagonists, one a highly calculating salesman (Eisenberg) and the other a neurotic computer wiz (Skarsgard). We discover that each one has motivations of his own. As considerable opposites, they keep the film's dynamic engaging.

Some of the film's best moments are when these two aspiring masters of the universe find the core principles behind their work being challenged by the citizenry they cross paths with. The film takes a mild-mannered look at the ethics of the project but mostly lets the audience judge for itself. Recommended as workmanlike filmmaking on obscure but compelling material.
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Engineering P*rn with his Cousin Vinny.
bob-the-movie-man19 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
What a curious little film this is. The Hummingbird Project is a do-or-die mission for two cousins - Vincent Zaleski (Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton Zaleski (Alexander Skarsgård) - who hatch a plan to run a fibre-optic communications link in a straight line - regardless of swamps, national parks and Appalachian Mountains - between exchanges in Wall Street and Kansas. It currently takes 17 milliseconds for information to get between the two sites. If the team can cut that to 16 milliseconds, floods of market trades will come their way and they will make millions.

The problem is that Vinny and Anton work in a trading organisation for cut-throat boss Eva Torres (Salma Hayek), so their behind the scenes plotting is at least disloyal and at worst borderline criminal.

As the pair Quixotically proceed to buy up land rights and drill horizontal holes, funded by speculative but equally dollar-focused invester Bryan Taylor (Frank Schorpion), will Torres reap her revenge on the pair?

This will appeal to a limited demographic. To really enjoy this film you need to get excited about the prospect of saving a millisecond. Or the joy of understanding the importance of tolerances in electronic components. And it helps if you are an engineering boff that gets moist at the sight of heavy machinery doing what it does best. I fit the bill for at least two out of these three, so overall I enjoyed the film. But I appreciate that this is a Venn diagram that will have a relatively small percentage of the population in the overlap. That doesn't mean a lack of broad appeal makes it a bad film (although the executive producers might disagree). If the only measure was "mass appeal" then every film would be a remake of "Avengers: Endgame".

Notwithstanding the subject matter, the essence of the story also runs against the normal Hollywood grain. To say more here would be a spoiler (I make more comment in a spoiler section on my One Mann's Movies blog).

It all felt to me like this should have been a true story. I was waiting at the end of the opening titles for the card saying "Based on a true story" and during the end credits for the jolly old pictures of the real life Zaleski's and the 'evil' (read, business professional!) Torres. But no. It would have been a much stronger movie if it HAD been based on fact, but this was 100% a work of fiction.

Jesse Eisenberg seems to be a one-trick pony. Here he could be Zuckerberg again, in a slightly parallel field. He gets the chance to act (due to a plot point we won't go into here) but still failed to connect with me.

It was Alexander Skarsgård in a role completely out of his normal niche, that impresses most. He's nerdy, nervy and paranoid, with a strong dose of programmer's Asperger's. Locked in his darkened hotel room with nothing for company but a drum of fibre-optic cable, he impressively demonstrates the despair of failure and the joy - with memorable dance moves - of success.

Also good was Michael Mando (from the Spiderman reboots) as their drilling guru Mark Vega.

The actor I wanted to see more of was Salma Hayak. Eva Torres is another colourful female executive, cum hatchet-woman, that we don't see enough of on screen (I used to work for one, so it's a role I recognise well!). But although Hayak's role starts strongly it just fizzles out.

Overall, I found this an interesting story, but the ending a bit of a damp squib. What might have been barn-storming finale just ends up as a barn-dripping one!

This was written and directed by Canadian Kim Nguyen, someone new to me. This will undoubtedly be a "Marmite-movie", with some loving it and some hating it. I was more on the loving side, but it's not an uplifting watch and the quirkiness of the film never really completely fills that gap.

(For the full graphical review, please check out One Mann's Movies on the interweb, or on Facebook. Thanks).
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Okay movie
Camtdm27 October 2019
I think Selma Hayak was A HUGE casting mistake. Otherwise it was an interesting enough movie.
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Underwhelming writing didn't make up for the great performances
TheTopDawgCritic15 June 2019
Writer/director Kim Nguyen did a better job directing, than the choppy writing/screenplay. Great story concept, but the films 111 mins, slow pacing and dragged out scenes, felt like almost 3 hours, and made for somewhat of a boring story that didn't hold much of my attention. The acting was great, especially from Skarsgård and Eisenberg. I am a fan of Hayek, but this character wasn't for her. Nevertheless, the underwhelming writing didn't make up for the great performances. It's a generous 7/10 from me
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Wants to be like "The Big Short" but falls... short
paul-allaer31 March 2019
"The Hummingbird Project" (2018 release from Canada); brings the story of cousins Vinnie and Anton. As the movie opens, we are at the offices of "Torres & Thathcher, New York, October, 2011", where Vinnie and Anton both work as data analysts. Unbeknownst to their boss Eva Torres, Vinnie and Anton are planning to leave and branch out on their own, as they have found a way (or so they think) to get data from the Kansas Electronics Exchange a millisecond faster than everyone else by building a 4 inch fiber tunnel in a straight line from Kansas to New York. Of course, this involves many legal and practical challenges. Off they go... At this point we are 10 min into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this movie is written and directed by little known (on the US side anyway) Canadian Kim Nguyen. Here he brings a story that could have a major impact on how stocks are traded on Wall Street. Within minutes, it is clear that the vibe Nguyen is going for is Adam McKay's "The Big Short". In and of itself there is nothing wrong with that. Except that here, it simply doesn't work all that well. First of all, we need to make a leap of faith that stick traders getting data in 16 milliseconds rather than 17 milliseconds (think about that) will cause a tornado in the stock markets. Second, the movie makes a number of side bars that divert from the major story line (sorry, I don't want to divulge more than that). On the plus side, the movie is helped enormously by the lead performances. Jesse Eisenberg (as Vinnie) and, even better, an almost unrecognizable Alexander Skarsgård (as Anton) truly carry the film on their shoulders. Salma Hayek's screen time (as Eva Torres) is all too brief, unfortunately. Bottom line: the movie is not bad per se, but neither is is compelling. It all feels like a lost opportunity.

"The Hummingbird Project" premiered at last Fall's Toronto International Film Festival to so-so acclaim, and the movie now is getting a limited theater release. It opened this weekend at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati, and the Sunday early evening screening where I saw this at was attended poorly (8 people, including myself). I can't see this playing in the theater for more than just a few weeks. If you are interested in a "Big Short"-wanna-be that falls, well, a bit short but that has its moments, I encourage you to check it out, be it in the theater (if you can), or VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.
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Fantastic and Unique
hledmonds14 October 2018
I saw The Hummingbird Project last night at BFI. It's captivating and interesting, funny and thought provoking. The acting is incredible, Eisenberg does a fantastic job with some pretty emotional stuff. Salma Hayek is great, it's cool to see a woman with so much power for a change. The real standout to me though is Alexander Skarsgård. His role is spectacular. It's unlike anything he's done before, he brought a perfect amount of comedy to the role.
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Interesting if you like modern technology or trading but film falls a little flat
coombsstephen15 June 2019
I was interested to see this having read Micheal Lewis non-fiction book Flash boys and if I didn't know better I would say this book had just taken the premise of that book and tried to put a fiction film around the basics of it.

The technology is close to real life and quite interesting, plus the size of the project is quite something to see.

However the plot is just about ok if a little ridiculous at times and the story lacks a build up of any tension or suspense so is just a bit flat.
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Beautiful Movie If you get the point movie makes !!!!
parimeet140911 July 2019
I think I may agree with other reviewers saying that film is just flat lines and could have done with some plot twist or could have been more tension in it or be suspenseful. But I think this is exactly what filmmakers did not wanted. They made a film that delivers a message that sometimes you put so much energy , so much passion into something but if somebody else does it better than you than it just makes your work insignificant. I mean it just does. So in the end of movie if it feels like what was the point of the movie than it just resonates beautifully with the message it delivers.
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Kept me on my toes
juzerjk13 June 2019
This movie has so many ups and downs.. Movie will keep you interested up until the last second. Jesse Eisenberg was spot on.. This guy is so amazing to watch.
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Is Eisenberg a one trick pony?
whocares-9623716 June 2019
As I sit here watching this flick right now as I type, I am thinking to myself "is there something else I could be watching?", then I paused and decided to write my impression so far. Eleven minutes in and I cant get past the fact that Jesse Eisenberg has no depth as an actor, I dont know if I am watching him portray Zuckerberg, Lex Luthor, the odd character in Adventured or any other movie hes done. He has no depth, rather just comes off like a sneaky slimy creepy guy that in real life... well no one is like him in real life because he so weird in his one single acting style he chooses that person he always seems to portray would never exist!

There are others like that that sort of are so far out on a limb that they are unbelievable in every role and for me are hard to watch, but for some reason people drool over, for example Nicholson, Depp, Walken and so many others, who really have just one odd method of acting at which point they have used up their bag of acting tricks.

On to the flick at hand, a couple of side mentions goes to Selma Hayek, shes the CEO (or something) of a large company? Shes dressed like an ex-fashion model with 6 inch stiletto heels and some weird salt and pepper hair color, really unbelievable. The smart guy appears to be an odd reclusive introvert with some sort of issues or light autism, yet hes married to an attractive woman and has kids...very odd. There is some subtle Hollywood virtue signaling type messaging snuck in there.

Made it to the 45 minute mark... going to have to stop it, its just that boring. Whats next Hollywood, a movie on a landscaping company called "The Art of Growing Grass" or "Dirty Riders" where they re-sod yards and mow lawns?

I am surprised it has such a high rating, although I am convinced as part of the marketing dollars and efforts for a movie, they hire people to hit up all social media and other open forum review sites and try to stack the deck with positive reviews. I would not recommend this movie.
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iamtheonewhoknockss12 June 2019
Don't waste your time. There is nothing compelling about this story and at the end, all was for naught. There isn't even a legitimate antagonist, so what drives these ambitious tech geeks to succeed? Nobody knows and neither will you! I saw other reviews praising Skarsgard for a breakout performance, but even that was run of the mill. Just because you're naturally handsome in real life and you use makeup to make yourself bald and gain a few pounds to look out of shape, does not an Oscar caliber performance make. This could have been great, but fell flat in every way. Mediocre writing, mediocre direction, mediocre performances, mediocre cinematography. You walk into the film with the promise of a 5-star meal, but you find yourself served with McDonald's. Use your time on something worth it.
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js-6613028 February 2019
When a financial IT hustler in the midst of his greatest gamble is presented with a death sentence, he decides to dig a deeper hole.

Twitchy, wide-eyed Jesse Eisenberg is perfect as the edgy and on the edge Vincent, putting out a series of unfortunate fires in his bizarre quest to drill a straight fibre cable pipe from Kansas to New Jersey. Better is balding nerd, hunch-backed, awkward code crunching cousin Anton, played by unrecognizable Alexander Skarsgard in equal doses of clown tear sadness, and physical slapstick. Their escape from and battle with Cruella Devillish Salma Hayek (strong boss Eva), stirs the plot pot.

"The Hummingbird Project" is an exercise in determined futility, as a couple of misguided geniuses in search of life-altering, get rich quick adventure, get in way over their heads as their world spirals out of control. And though the film veers off common sense tracks, there's no denying it's power to cajole viewers along for the crazy ride.

Dig it!
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Drilled to Oblivion....
zack_gideon14 December 2019
This movie is good in the beginning and the middle and was super stoked to see a great ending. Instead I spoilers. I wouldn't waste 2 hours on this. Judge for yourself but you'll probably feel the same way as me. Drilled to oblivion. Can't say anything else :)
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I want two hours of my life back!
apostolopouloskostas31 March 2019
Warning: Spoilers
It's not even true story and it is no reason to be this a movie. It's a waste of time. It's starting with two guys trying to make money and it ends with completely nothing. What is the reason for the film? Actors and director trying they best but the story and everything about the film doesn't deserve anything above 1.
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cekadah4 July 2019
Kim Nguyen's film about a race for the quickest transfer of information is an allegorical story of how we can change how we live but life and nature itself exist on it's own rules.

Here we are given Eva Torres who is winning the tech game on Wall Street investment info. Then Vincent & Anton who are determined to beat Eva at her own game through a very complex high tech plan. Then there's the Amish who live their lives without modern technology.

In this story all three come to cross purposes and Vincent is the first to learn that life has it's own rules and the pursuit of technology changes nothing. And even those who reject technology suffer life equally.

This is a thinking persons film.
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Most boring ending ever
ratiocinator29 June 2019
This movie literally went nowhere. I think the scriptwriter must have passed away before getting to the end, and the tea boy took over the task. Uneventful and disappointing would be an understatement. The lack of creativity was highly apparent in the writing of this movie.

Moreover, why did the director - the same boring individual that wrote this cinematic let-down - have the actors eat so often on-camera? They were eating while talking, and eating while other actors spoke. It's bizarre why Hollywood has such an agenda that involves so much disgustingly noisy graphic food consumption in movies that adds nothing to the story. What's the explanation? I've asked, yet no one answers.

Conclusion: save your time - don't watch this boring movie with zero thought given to the ending. Go for a walk instead.
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So many plot holes and nonsense
fivish-119 July 2019
If you have any knowledge of electronics then the tech. nonsense will be very annoying. Plot holes abound. I think 3/10 is generous. A good cast wasted on a poor script.
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A lot things wrong with this one...
Donovaan29 June 2019
I rarely give such a low rating, but sadly this one deserves it. I have to do that because pretty much all components of the film except maybe recording and editing were very lacking. Who ever wrote the script has no idea about the financial markets and because of that went in over his or her head. With enough research and time this script and thus movie could have been a lot better.

The second crucial part is the choice of actors and the acting. Jesse Eisenberg might have been a good choice, but some of the others (not gonna name them) were seeming very out of place to me. The cast wasn't living the story or their character, which makes it seem noncredible and cheesy. It's all just not working out like it maybe could have, with enough time and thought, maybe also budget...

For me this movie was sadly a waste of time and I quit after the first half. See for yourself.
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Silly film, irrelevant plot, waste of time
contactmaz11 June 2019
Really, I should have realised it would be crap when I saw that Eisenberg was in the film. Why the hell is this guy still being cast in films? He has no idea how to act! Skarsgaard is like wimpy hunchback in the film and I'm surprised he agreed to do this. His roles are usually 'the pathetic character' roles.

Although the idea of the film sounded good initially, as you watch it, the original plot dissolves and it becomes a mess of 'crap' basically.

Surprised that this is currently a 6.5
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A well-rounded... maybe?
pauliecorleone-7262811 June 2019
There is nothing wrong with being average. In fact, the lesson we can learn from The Hummingbird Project is that when the world is too busy scrutinizing the great or pitying the weak, the average can get away with anything.

Misfires: 1. It's a good thing Jesse Eisenberg is a likable guy because he's basically built his whole career around playing himself.

2. I truly like the guy, honest to Zeus, but put Mark Margolis in anything and I become too busy listening out for Hector's bell, making the whole thing too hard for me to focus. Please.

3. Unless they specifically wanted to go down the young Robert Duvall/Tom Hagen route, there is a certain Gustaf out there who should be very cross he wasn't the Skarsgard bo(a)ld choice. Now, if, for whatever reason, he was unavailable at the time, I take that back, Alexander was sublime in this and made for a great substitute. This third point then becomes...

3. Alexander Skarsgard's lack of hair.

Which brings us to...

4. Salma Hayek's inexcusable hair.

Which then in turn lands us on...

5. Salma Hayek.

...and not in the good way.
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mirceacn11 June 2019
Why didn't they just moved closer to the New York exchange?
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Headturner112 June 2019
Warning: Spoilers
I'm a trader so comparing this to the big short and other movies about the markets is an insult. This was excruciating to watch. It wasn't in any way feasible. I was trading all day and was disappointed it was this kind of movie and not in a good way like " Wolf of Wall street" the big short was not my favorite wither but what where they hoping to do with this? since they aren't traders?! And the company that invested all that money? Lol. The main protagonist was irritating as hell. Sorry , haven't seen him in anything else. Salma. Good grief. Horrible. Ruined my image of her perfect performance in" Lonely hearts". Did not now that was Skarsgard but his performance was the best imo. All in all it just wasn't a realistic movie about the markets!
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