The Hummingbird Project parents guide

The Hummingbird Project Parent Guide

This wannabe thriller lacks tension or excitement, offering instead a plodding story with some truly dreadful acting.

Overall C-

In the trading world one millisecond can earn billions of dollars. Cousins Vincent and Anton have a plan to give themselves an edge over the competition but when their old boss figures them out, she will stop at nothing to ruin it all.

Release date March 22, 2019

Violence B+
Sexual Content A
Profanity D
Substance Use C

Why is The Hummingbird Project rated R? The MPAA rated The Hummingbird Project R for language throughout

Run Time: 110 minutes

Parent Movie Review

In a world where milliseconds can mean millions of dollars, cousins Vincent (Jesse Eisenberg) and Anton (Alexander Skarsgard) are willing to make a phenomenally risky wager. Vincent is a high frequency trader and Anton is a computer savant with the same brokerage firm. The two determine that if they lay a fiber optic cable in a straight line between Kansas City and New York, they could shave a fraction of a second off the time it takes to transfer data between the two centers. They quit their jobs, Vincent raises capital and organizes the dig, and Anton devotes his life to further shortening data transmission time.

The Hummingbird Project sounds like a taut, suspenseful techno-business thriller. It should be, but it isn’t. Instead it is a plodding cautionary tale, cursed with poor pacing, uninteresting characters, and an indeterminate ending. The acting is a mixed bag: Jesse Eisenberg is competent, Alexander Skarsgård puts in the best performance in the film, and Salma Hayek chews the scenery with such ferocity it’s surprising there aren’t tooth marks on the set. Hayek plays Eva Torres, the cousins’ erstwhile boss, and she is determined to beat them at their own game. Instead of playing the role with restrained menace, Hayek goes full Disney villainess, lurching between Ursula the Sea Witch from The Little Mermaid and Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmatians. The scenes in which she appears alternate between laugh-out-loud ridiculous and cringingly bad. Given Hayek’s impressive acting background, this disaster must be laid at the feet of director Kim Nguyen.

Nguyen not only directed the film; he also wrote the screenplay, which makes him directly responsible for the movie’s other big flaw – profanity. The movie contains close to 70 curse words, including 45 completely unnecessary sexual expletives. There is little other negative content and simply cleaning up the language could easily have landed this movie in PG-13 territory instead of the Restricted rating it rightly earned. As it stands, the amount of profanity in this film will deter most parents from letting their teens view this production.

Frankly, it is unlikely that teens (or most adults) will be interested in The Hummingbird Project. The movie doesn’t manage to generate tension or excitement and garners little empathy for its characters. The only exception is Anton: he’s an introvert who desperately wants to earn enough money to live in the country forever, watch hummingbirds, and never have to deal with annoying people again. It’s also Anton who manages – briefly – to stumble across the only interesting question in the film. While explaining the project to a waitress, she asks how it will benefit the people who work for the companies that are being traded on the stock exchange. Anton looks at her in puzzlement – those people, he tells her, are completely irrelevant. Had The Hummingbird Project devoted some of its much-too-long runtime to complex issues like these, it would be a more interesting film. And maybe the film would escape from the irony that a story which is focused on speed feels so painfully slow.

Directed by Kim Nguyen. Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgård, Salma Hayek. Running time: 110 minutes. Theatrical release March 22, 2019. Updated

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The Hummingbird Project
Rating & Content Info

Why is The Hummingbird Project rated R? The Hummingbird Project is rated R by the MPAA for language throughout

Violence: A main character grabs a chainsaw in a threatening manner but is unable to act on his intentions. A character is shown having an endoscopic procedure in a hospital. We see a stream of urine turning into blood.
Sexual Content:   None.
Profanity:   Extensive profanity, including at least 45 sexual expletives, 16 scatological curses, three anatomical terms, 1 term of deity and a handful of other swear words and crude terms.
Alcohol / Drug Use: There is minor social drinking when characters have wine or beer with a meal. No one gets drunk. A main character smokes to cope with stress.

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The Hummingbird Project Parents' Guide

When the Amish refuse to sell some of their land to Vincent, he offers them more money. But the Amish aren’t interested in either money or high speed technology. They don’t think that either are necessary for a happy, rewarding life. Do you think there is merit in some or all of the trade offs the Amish have made for their way of life? Or do you agree with Vince’s determination to constantly strive for more and more wealth?

 

Loved this movie? Try these books…

Unethical traders, crooked markets, lax regulation – the story behind the 2008 economic collapse is clearly told in Michael Lewis’ best seller, The Big Short; Inside the Doomsday Machine.

Hedge fund traders have an enormous amount of economic influence. Sebastian Mallaby’s More Money Than God” Hedge Funds and the Making of a New Elite goes inside the world of hedge funds for over five decades.

Home Video

Related home video titles:

The classic film about capitalist chicanery is 1987’s Wall Street. Its sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps came out in 2010.

Documentary film maker and left wing provocateur Michael Moore takes on Wall Street and the rest of the capitalist system in Capitalism: A Love Story.

The Family Man is a more personal story of a Wall Street tycoon and the choices he makes to pursue his career.