Jumper means well, in the same way that a homeless guy steals your wallet. Actually, it’s just theft, and it’s criminal. And that’s how I felt after viewing Jumper. I felt like I had been robbed.
If not for the supremely successful Bourne Trilogy, Doug Liman probably would have never even got a hand in directing this movie, and unlike his Indy roots, he whole heartedly sacrifices substance for style. Not the best move, especially for a film that looks this pretty, and makes you wonder about the possibilities of teleportation. And Hayden cardboard-whiny-as-all-hell-Darth-fucking-Vader Christensen as the lead character, I found myself rooting for the villains half the time. Well, let’s jump into the review shall we? No pun intended.
Christensen is David Rice, a being capable of teleportation simply by envisioning the place in his mind. He just thinks about the place he wants to be, and he’s able to ‘jump’ there through a series of wormhole like teleportation devices that only he can access. This allows him to rob banks, go anywhere in the world, do pretty much anything with no consequences whatsoever, that is until Mace Windu shows up to shove a light saber up his ass! Oops…wrong flick. Samuel L. Jackson in his most cartoonish role with snow white hair and beard accomplishes being a complete dick to Rice within the first scene (so, really he’s not that bad of a guy!) Jackson, as Roland, is the keeper of keys of long…distance…travel. He’s part of a sect called the Paladins and has been hunting down ‘Jumpers’ just like David for a long, long time, in a galaxy far far away…dammit…you get the idea. He’s a major bad ass.
David first learns of his ability when being bullied at school (this part is thankfully not played by Christensen). Once he figures it out, he’s jacks a bank vault and is actually dickish enough to leave an IOU note for all the millions he’s stolen. From his first few clumsy jumps, he starts to use it to travel and steal more money – because, wouldn’t you? Around the second act, the Paladin’s ultimate bad ass Roland shows up to kill Rice, a welcoming act, as we’re never shown any kind of motivations behind Rice’s actions; and really, he is basically a villain since he’s got no moral compass, he does whatever he damn well wants. So, yes, I for one was glad to see Jackson lay the smack down on Vader’s candy ass.
I can’t really say a ‘chase’ ensues, whereby I mean David jumps to another place. A chase is something that’s done when two bodies are in motion, one after the other. This was a little different, in that Rice could just jump to Japan, 10,000 miles away from the people pursing him.
Oh yeah, they also force a romance between Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen. Because he takes her to Rome, a place she’s always wanted to go as a kid. And because she’ll put out if she’s given nice stuff, great moral compass…yeah. I’m sure the filmmakers wanted to convey ‘compassionate longing’ into the script but somehow ended up getting ‘golddigger’. I’m sure it was a slight oversight.
If not for the appearance of a second jumper, Griffin (Jamie Bell), David wouldn’t learn anything about his ‘highlander’ -like back story. Griffin, who really should have been the main characters, saves David from the paladins during a fight in the roman Colosseum. Hell, even a video game was made of Griffin rather than David at the helm – that should tell you something right there: who’s more marketable?
The visuals of Jumper were simply awesome; you really felt that David was jumping all around the world in the blink of an eye, or all over the screen. His ability brings forth many new dimensions of ‘what-if’s’ but the filmmakers ultimately don’t use that tool, and just turn the it into a love story that’s clumsy and at times, silly. The introduction of Diane Lane as the mother also felt entirely tacked on, and a grasping at air attempt for a sequel – it fails miserably.
If this movie proves anything, it’s that in the age of special effects, story stands out above all else. Without a good story and good cast, you just have an empty shell that’s vacuous and tries hard to be something it’s not: great.