A pair of high-frequency traders go up against their old boss in an effort to make millions in a fiber-optic cable deal.
According to one of the characters in writer/director Kim Nguyen’s terrific latest feature, The Hummingbird Project, a single flap of a hummingbird’s wings takes 16 milliseconds. That also happens to be the speed at which information needs to travel through the protagonists’ state-of-the-art fiber-optic cable, connecting the New York Stock Exchange to the Kansas Electronic Exchange Data Center. Only it’s not. It’s a millisecond behind. What a difference one millisecond can make.
Both harsh and gentle, sympathetic and cynical, Nguyen’s cautionary tale views humanity through the prism of “microwaves” and “neutrinos,” the very things that connect us at an increasingly fast rate. Ironically, they also draw us apart, invoking greed, envy, and a lack of awareness. As the high-tech world engulfs us, we become engulfed in it, disregarding the environment, our health, each other. Consequently, we’re immune to human emotion, in perpetual pursuit of self-fulfillment. Akin to the fiber-optic cable around which The Hummingbird Project is centered, Nguyen’s world’s a conduit for “neutrinos” – us – always moving, carrying data.
The (anti)hero, Vincent Zaleski (Jesse Eisenberg), hatches a “top-secret” plan that would allow him and his cousin Anton (a bald, geek-ified Alexander Skarsgård) to abruptly quit their day job at a financial engineering company. The plan is both simple and complex: to dig a straight “fiber-tunnel” that would directly connect New York to Kansas, speeding up the exchange of stock market quotes by the nth degree, and making the tech-savvy duo extremely rich. Vincent wants to prove his father wrong, while Anton’s dream is to live in a house on a hill with hummingbirds, away from people, forever immersed in coding.
“…to dig a straight ‘fiber-tunnel’ that would directly connect New York to Kansas…”