"Jumper" falls flat on its face

Feb. 19, 2008, midnight | By Charles Kong | 14 years, 3 months ago

Science fiction film makes for a neat travelogue but that's it

Teleportation has a high place superpower wish list. One would think that a film about a man who can travel to any place in a blink of an eye would be fascinating. But the stunning special effects alone do not make "Jumper" worth seeing. Directed by Doug Liman, who brought us the energetic "The Bourne Identity" and "Mr. and Mrs. Smith," "Jumper" lacks the action and excitement its premise promises, and combined with a confusing plot and mismatched characterization, all its potential ends up wasted.

Based on Steven Jay Gould's popular science fiction novel, "Jumper" follows the story of young adult David Rice (Hayden Christensen) who leads a materialistic life of hedonism after he discovers that he has the unique ability to teleport anywhere. David has the whole world in his hands until he meets the menacing white-haired jumper hunter Roland (Samuel Jackson), and finds himself in the middle of a war between Jumpers and the Paladins, religious fanatic warriors who have dedicated their lives to killing the teleporting abominations. David, relentlessly pursued around the world by Roland and his gang of shock stick wielding henchmen, joins forces with another jumper, Griffin (Jamie Bell), " all the while trying to protect his high school crush Millie (Rachel Bilson) from becoming the Paladins' latest target.

As if that isn't confusing enough, it gets worse. The plot is filled with numerous holes that leave the audience with more questions than it can possibly answer. The screenwriters only briefly explain how the "jumping" process actually works " the jumper thinks of a place he has previously visited, and whoosh, he's there. Sometimes a jumper's arrival causes massive damage in the immediate area, sometimes it doesn't, and other obvious plot holes such as are left untouched. Even more frustratingly, why no one really seems to notice when a jumper appears amidst a crowd, even when he is driving a brand new sports car is an untouched topic.

The characters are neither interesting nor convincing enough to get the audience innervated. Christensen always wears a stoic expression on his face, for there's really nothing for him to do as David spends much of the film floundering about. Bilson's character isn't any better. Her personality is so fickle and flimsy that her relationship with David feels stale. One moment she's in love with David, the next she hates his guts. "Jumper" never defines who the audience should root for, the selfish jumpers that steal or the holy paladins that hunt them. In one scene, David watches the Katrina disaster on television, and instead of helping the victims, he goes to London to pick up a hot chick. The only character that brings any substance to the film is Griffin, a renegade jumper who has dedicated his life to killing Paladins. He's charming, funny, smart and resourceful. Unlike David, he plans his attacks against his enemies and he knows the risk of bringing along a girlfriend on a jumping adventure, or having any sort of relationships. Maybe the film should have been about Griffin instead.

The only reasons to watch the film at all are the special effects and cinematography. The dynamic scenery of the Sphinx and the Great Pyramids in Egypt, the Colosseum in Rome, the Grand Canyon in Colorado and the majestic structures of Tokyo, London and New York are truly wonders to gawk at. The jumping and fighting sequences from place to place are also fun to watch, though they lack the energy of Liman's Bourne installments. In one scene, Griffin and David are speeding in a luxurious sports car while teleporting along the road to avoid traffic, vanishing from behind dead ends and appearing in front of, or even over, other cars in their way.

But for all its grandeur, "Jumper" is bound to be forgotten. The storyline is a mess and the acting seems forced. Liman is counting on a sequel, so let us hope it will make the leap "Jumper" failed to accomplish.

"Jumper" is rated PG-13 for sequences of intense action violence, some language and brief sexuality. It is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Charles Kong. Charles Kong loves to play tennis. Actually, he likes to play sports in general. He tries not to procrastinate, but his success rate varies. He likes listening to music and using the computer, and loves Jackie Chan movies. He is super excited for Chips, even … More »

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