The Hummingbird Project
If, like me, your understanding of technology ground to a halt at about the same time as the invention of the wheel, you might struggle to keep pace with the jargon in this outstanding and thoroughly immersive movie about ambition’s golden calf. The concept underpinning the story also seems barely feasible – Vincent and his cousin Anton (Jesse Eisenberg and a suitably bald Alexander Skarsgård) are involved in running a fibre-optic cable, underground, in a direct line from Kansas to New York in order to get the split-second jump on other Wall Street traders. Vincent, the fast-talking entrepreneur, has found a billionaire backer who is similarly driven by greed (Frank Schorpion), a hands-on engineer, Mark (Michael Mando), who will organise the machinery etc, while Anton is the nerdy family man obsessed with making the speed of the connection faster than all of their competitors’ – headed by Salma Hayek’s Eva, a sultry exec in power suits. Eisenberg, as we have come to expect, doesn’t act so much as recite his lines, but his MO, with its nervy, whiplash delivery and intense self-absorption is perfectly suited to Vincent’s driven, blinkered resolve. But when Vincent is confronted by his own poor health, and as obstacles emerge to hinder the progress of his grand plan, cracks in the façade reveal the human being within. Most touching is the concern he shows for Anton, whom he belatedly regards as the innocent who has been talked into joining the venture out of family loyalty and to find an outlet for his under-appreciated tech-head skills. Mando displays irresistible earthiness as the bloke who buys into the dream as the trio move inexorably towards a near-Shakespearean enlightenment in, of all places, an Amish barn. For as long as mindless Marvel is on the rampage, writer/director Kim Nguyen’s fabulous film is unlikely to find much of an audience. Which is a shame, because if art’s most honourable achievement can be to get close to enunciating life’s deeper verities, you’ll see plenty of flicks that don’t come as close to it as this.