The Hummingbird Project has all the elements it needs to be a compelling tech-focused thriller. The performances are here and the plot has some built-in suspense yet director Kim Nguyen tries too hard to make the film more, to add a deeper meaning to it all. As a result, the film is muddled and never decides how it feels about the character nor their actions.
The film introduces us to the world of high finance where speed, we are talking milliseconds. can mean the difference of millions of dollars. Set in 2011, the focus of the film is on Vincent Zaleski (Jesse Eisenberg) and his plan to build a single, straight fiber run bridging Kansas to the New York Stock Exchange. His plan will increase the speed of information by 1 second. This may not sound like much but it can make him millions. His key partner is his cousin Anton (Alexander Skarsgard) who is writing the software behind the scenes. The other partner is Mark Vega (Michael Mando) who is in charge of the construction side of things. They are trying to beat Vincent and Anton's former boss, Eva Torres (Selma Hayek).
The movie works in spurts, ranging from being way to in the weeds to being compelling as the three build their epic tunnel. The Hummingbird Project doesn't build any suspense, even as the project hits snag after snag. There is a side story that involves Vincent suffering from cancer but it is unclear if this is meant to explain his drive or cause sympathy from the audience. I am not sure Nguyen ever knows how to feel about these characters and therefore we never truly root for their success or demise. This renders the film inert too often.
The bright spot of the film is the performances of Eisenberg and Skarsgard. Eisenberg is doing much of what he did in The Social Network but he is great at it. Skarsgard gets to play against type and he makes the most of it. These performances can't save the film but they prevent it from being dull. Instead, The Hummingbird Project is muddled and never really says anything.