Jumper (2008)
Jumper (2008)

Genre: Sci-Fi Adventure Running Time: 1 hr. 28 min.

Release Date: February 14th, 2008 MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director: Doug Liman Actors: Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell, Rachel Bilson, Diane Lane, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Rooker, AnnaSophia Robb, Tom Hulce, Kristen Stewart

 


 

W

ith all the phenomenal superpowers and potential for high-octane thrills, “Jumper” falls very short in execution. Creative ideas are at work, yet so little is done to properly expand upon their possibilities. What is essentially marketed as a sci-fi action film displays only a few scenes of solid mayhem (the majority of which is revealed in the trailers), while most science-fiction elements are left almost entirely unexplained. It does manage to entertain with the constant anticipation of something grand, paired with the twisted charm of focusing on an antihero who possesses few noble traits, but the frustration over how easily the end product could have been tweaked for the better threatens to negate any positives.

After falling into a frozen lake and magically teleporting to safety, David Rice (Hayden Christensen) realizes the potential of his mysterious gift. Running away from home, he begins to live life to the fullest – at the expense of others. Robbing banks and teleporting to exotic locales around the world, David amasses a small fortune and a glamorous lifestyle, which he uses to woo his childhood sweetheart, Millie (Rachel Bilson). Traveling to Rome to seduce her, David unexpectedly encounters Griffin (Jamie Bell), another “jumper,” only to learn of a secret sect whose mission is to hunt down and destroy those possessing such teleportation abilities. Desperate to avoid capture and protect Millie, David must join forces with Griffin to stop Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), the murderous organization’s ruthless leader.

Chances are that many critics will have nothing good to say about the acting, with much of the negativity aimed at Hayden Christensen. But this has less to do with his acting chops and more to do with the scope of the character he was given to portray. With all of his teleporting superpowers, David feels too normal; his qualities steer toward the believably selfish reality of having such gifts. He uses his preternatural skills to chase girls, loot banks, and picnic atop famous structural wonders. Few redeeming attributes or admirable motives surface, rendering the warning of “there are always consequences” as something of a joke. Here, the repercussions of such materialistic wrongdoing is that an angry, white-haired black man will hunt him down – but he’ll still save the day and get the girl without anyone really having to pay. And for some unlikely reason, audiences are supposed to root for this character (perhaps a lesser of two evils?). Alongside this unusual protragonist is Millie, who offers a pretty face and ugly dialogue; Griffin, who, in a less interesting manner, exhibits even fewer likeable qualities than David; and Roland, who seems scripted specifically for Jackson, complete with requisite scars and terrible costuming.

Teleporting has always been a fascinating component of modern science-fiction. So “Jumper’s” location-hopping crux, which requires nothing more than a destination, appears as a wasted opportunity for some inventive concepts or twists on the convention. But predictable characters, an overused (albeit cool) special effect, and countless unresolved conflicts keep the film from achieving a level of creativity that should have been well within its reach. The production ironically parallels David’s early proposition to Millie to “skip the boring parts” of their journey; apparently, it also skipped over anything that would have given the film enough substance to stay afloat.

– The Massie Twins

  • 4/10