© 2008 Ray Wong
We all love our superheroes, and if they can teleport themselves to anywhere they want, all the better. In this X-Men knock-off, Jumper tries to fill a gap between the heavy dramas in the Fall and the upcoming blockbuster summer season.
David Rice (Hayden Christensen) is an introverted teenager who accidentally discovers that he has the ability to teleport himself to anywhere and through anything. He decides to leave home to seek his adventures. He arrives in New York and learns to harness his power, and soon finds himself robbing banks. He lives a really good life until Roland (Samuel L. Jackson) tracks him down. Somehow, Roland knows about the "Jumpers" like David, and he's out to destroy them.
Trying to outrun Roland, David returns home to retrieve his belongings and sees his high school crush Millie (Rachel Bilson), now a bartender. They fall in love and David wants to show her around the world, but he can't tell her his secrets. When Roland and his men find David again, David realizes he's putting Millie in danger. While trying to escape Roland, David meets Griffin (Jamie Bell), a fellow Jumper who is fighting back with every trick he's got. David decides he needs Griffin's help so he doesn't have to run anymore.
Hayden Christensen (Awake) proves once again he can't act. He has perhaps three different expressions throughout the film and he fails to give the character any depth. In fact, his character comes off as whiny, annoying, and impotent, not the kind of "hero" we expect. Christensen is often overshadowed by Jamie Bell (Flags of Our Fathers), who steals every scene he's in. Griffin is the true hero in this movie!
Samuel L. Jackson (Resurrecting the Champ) can play the part of Roland in his sleep. It's the same ruthless, aggressive characters he does so well. Unfortunately, his character is a one-note caricature. Rachel Bilson (The Last Kiss) is annoying as Mille. She and Christensen are truly made for each other -- they make an irritatingly superficial couple. I have absolutely no sympathy for the pair and find their part of the story boring, bogging down the plot to some cheesy dialogue and romantic subplot. In comparison, Max Thieriot (The Astronaut Farmer) and AnnaSophia Robb (Bridge to Terabithia) did much better as the young David and Millie respectively. And Diane Lane (Untraceable) is totally wasted as David's mother.
The screenplay by David S. Goyer (Batman Begins), Jim Ulhls (Fight Club) and Simon Kinberg (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) is a typical comic-book script that may delight the Comic Con crowd. Given their collective past achievements, I'm astounded to see how lame the screenplay is. The characters are thinly developed, and the plot is full of holes, and the story is clichéd. While the concept of teleporting superhumans is a beautiful one, the execution is another matter.
The story is very one-note, basically "X-Men meets Fugitive." We don't necessarily expect depth in such a fantasy-action film, but we do expect good twists. Jumper is so predictable, down the to cheesy ending that is clearly a set up for sequels. In fact, the entire film feels like a long pilot for a TV series.
In all fairness, however, director Doug Liman (Mr. & Mrs. Smith) gives the film some really cool visuals. The most entertaining part of the film is when David and Griffin are teleporting all over the world. Lounging on top of the Sphinx in Egypt or surfing in Fiji. A double-decker bus crashing into the middle of a desert. These are exciting and make us wish we could do the same thing for real. The production design is marvelous. And Griffin really is a cool character -- if only they would make him the main guy.
Unfortunately, even Liman, who was fantastic with Mr. & Mrs. Smith, couldn't save this movie from its flat story, huge plot holes, and poor acting. Despite some entertaining moments, I wish I could jump to somewhere else while watching this movie.
Stars: Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Diane Lane, Jamie Bell, Rachel Bilson, Michael Rooker, AnnaSophia Robb, Max Thieriot
Director: Doug Liman
Writers: David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls, Simon Kinberg (based on Steven Gould's novel)
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence, some language and brief sexuality
Running Time: 88 Minutes
Script – 5
Performance – 6
Direction – 7
Cinematography – 7
Editing – 6
Production – 7
Total – 6.0 out of 10