Jesse Eisenberg was so good in The Social Network, that he’s returning to the tech world again. The problem is, instead of Aaron Sorkin writing snappy dialogue, it’s writer/director Kim Nguyen. Tonally, this is a mess, and…when dealing with people laying fiber optic cable, you need more than just two interesting performances. Well, one interesting performance. We’ve seen Eisenberg play this character before. Alexander Skarsgard, playing a genius that’s on the spectrum…is totally unrecognizable (he’s bald in it). He’s terrific, as we watch him deciding to build a desk in his house at 2 a.m. or check out during a meeting with big cheeses that are going to finance this project. And, just what is the project? Well, the two cousins have come up with a way to get information on the stock market a second before anybody else, which is worth millions. The problem is, that’s the job these guys had when working for a tough CEO (Salma Hayek). She figures out what they’re up to, and isn’t about to let that happen. This also caused me to have a big argument with a popular theatre critic in town, who thought Hayek’s character was such an evil bitch. I tried explaining…in a business setting, you can’t be getting paid from a company, and use their intellectual property you were paid to create, to profit on your own. She was just screaming at me about it, which was amusing.
But back to Nguyen. He’s not sure what kind of movie he wanted to make. At times it was a comedy, other times it was going for that Wolf of Wall Street vibe. It tried to be a suspenseful thriller, a compelling drama, and a character study. All that would’ve been fine, if those elements were done better.
It’s surprising to find out this wasn’t based on a true story. Watching the cousins try to get landowners and investors interested in this, isn’t all that interesting. If it were a true story, it would’ve been.
Something about a genius trying to write code, to save a millisecond of time, just isn’t the most compelling cinema; or having them deal with a grumpy old guy that is reluctant to let his yard be dug up for some optic cables.
Yet there’s just something so interesting about watching Skarsgard in this role. This is an actor that continues to impress me with his choices. I loved him in What Maisie Knew, The East, and The Diary of a Teenage Girl. If this were a better movie, he’d be nailing an Oscar nomination for this performance.
There are also some good supporting roles. Actor Frank Schorpion, as the money behind this project, has a great look and vibe. It’s like the guys were dealing with a mob boss.
Michael Mando, from Better Call Saul, was an interesting choice as a construction dude that’s helping them get this all built. He was fun to watch, as he has to express concerns over some costs, or some health problems one of the guys develops.
The music was good. We got to hear Devendra Banhart, some classical Debussy, and a funny scene with The Beastie Boys playing in the background. The original score by Yves Gourmeur is solid, too.
2 ½ stars out of 5.