The Social Network's Jesse Eisenberg is back in nerdy, fine form in Canadian director Kim Nguyen's latest offering.
Eisenberg plays Vincent, the slightly manic brains behind a convoluted scheme to take on Wall Street by laying a fibre-optic cable in an absolutely straight line from the Kansas electronic exchange to a Wall Street databank centre in New Jersey. Yes, this does mean passing through the Appalachian Mountains and other tricky terrain.
Vincent and cousin Anton (Alexander Skarsgard) work for a trading company dealing in the high-speed trading of stocks and commodities. Any advantage they can get, such as a network system which is a millisecond faster than their competition, means they can make millions more.
Vincent and Anton aren't interested in giving away their genius idea to their demanding boss, Eva Torres (Salma Hayek), and instead, strike out on their own. Vincent is the hustler, securing funding to lay the cable and getting permission from landowners, government departments and the like to tear up the countryside.
Anton is the reclusive mathematical genius responsible for finding a way to make their cable one-sixteenth of a millisecond faster than everyone else's. You probably won't recognise Skarsgard (Big Little Lies), he's the bald actor quietly out-nerding Eisenberg.
To make a film about laying a cable more exciting than it sounds, Nguyen has given the narrative a "race against time" tension, with Torres determined to beat the traitors at their own game.
The desire to be even more rich, to the detriment of almost everything - the environment, the landowners, the law, and Vincent's health - sees the absurdity level increase throughout the film, despite Nguyen taking a relatively low-key approach to telling this story.
The result is mixed. To the good, this a story told with great attention to detail, and it's worth noting that the documentary style may lead you to think it's based on a real story - it's not.
On the downside, it's underwhelming. The lack of momentum, messages delivered without real punch, and plucky characters who are only mildly endearing, means this fascinating premise fizzles out.
Jesse Eisenberg, Alexander Skarsgard, Salma Hayek
Fascinating story but its telling leaves you cold.