Jumper, based on the 1992 novel, which involved a teenager dealing with his newly discovered power of teleportation, was meet with the same general sense of anticipation and apprehension that generally greets all of Doug Liman’s releases. Ever since his lower-end budgeted movies Swingers and Go, Liman has been moving on to bigger and better things, i.e. The Bourne Identity and Mr. & Mrs. Smith. But just like his last two releases, Jumper feels like jump off for a bigger and better franchise.
in the films epic 88 minute running time, we get the background story of lead Hayden Christensen (mining new depths of apathetic acting), his childhood, how he initially learned about his powers, then shooting forward a few years to find him living a lush lifestyle, robbing banks by night, and using that money to live in fancy apartments all over the world, seducing women, sunbathing on the head of the Sphinx, that kind of thing. in the middle of this, we get introduced to Hayden’s lifelong crush Rachel Bilson (pretty, but thats about as far deep as we get with her) and Jamie Bell (a fellow Jumper, and the most charismatic thing in this movie) and Samuel L Jackson (using the same kind of been-there-been-that shade of acting we’ve seen him using since Snakes On A Plane). Jackson is a Paladin, who are the BAD GUYS, because they don’t believe that Jumpers, who are the GOOD GUYS, should be allowed to rob banks and damage public property whenever they feel like it. Liman has always said that he prefers showing the audience his movies from the point of view of the anti-hero. and while this might have worked for Bourne and The Smiths, its difficult to follow here, because Christensen is so easy to dislike, and nobody’s motives are made entirely clear. entire plotlines are explained in one line of dialogue. the script is almost unbearably lazy, made even more infuriating when you think that between them, the writers of this also scripted Fight Club, Blade and Batman Begins.
and then there’s the actors themselves. Christensen seems lost in a role that the Ryans Gosling or Reynolds could have ran away with. the rest of the supporting cast are asked to be nothing more than pretty and distracted. and then we have actors like Diane Lane, Michael Rooker, AnnaSophia Robb and Kristen Stewart in the tiniest roles that their usage goes beyond wasted talent. on top of this, there are massive plot-holes (Christensen’s mother finds out that her son is a Jumper when he is five, but his father doesn’t? She leaves because she is a Paladin, yet lives in a shit-hole in the middle of nowhere?) and entire segments of the film that go nowhere (Christensen and Bell go to Tokyo….. to have a conversation. and to rob a car. and thats it.)
but despite ALL of this, there are still nuggets of goodness to be obtained from this movie. Liman knows how to shoot an action sequence, and some of the better ones in this movie will most likely be some of the best ones you’ll see all year. the special effects are top class, especially for the Jumping itself, a weird static-y implosion that leaves behind a destructive residue. and seeing the Jumpers fight off the Paladins in the middle of the Colosseum, or chasing each other from the desert to rush hour traffic in London to the top of the Empire State Building, all the while fighting for control of a bombs detonator, is bordering on the fantastic.
but all the while, you will be left thinking what could have been. the films tag line is “Anywhere. Anything. Instantly.” and while this is hinted at, it never gives into its own full potential. so, like Liman’s Bourne Identity, you’re left only vaguely satisfied, but fixed with the need of someone else to take over the reigns and really show what this franchise is capable of. quick, somebody get Paul Greengrass on the phone……
five out of ten.