Jumper takes a nosedive
Jumper is a movie that has a tremendous premise and awesome special effects that are ultimately hindered by a script that prevents its characters from every fully taking off.
David Rice (Hayden Christensen, Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith) discovers he can teleport, or jump, after suffering another humiliating encounter with a high school bully in front of his longtime crush, Millie.
Typically, that’s the kind of origin you’d expect from a Batman villain. The nerdy character gets picked on one time too many and decides to do something about it, but David isn’t that committed to doing anything interesting.
He just pops in out of countries for quick visits and utilizes his abilities in more mundane activities like porting from the couch to the fridge and it’s every bit as boring as it sounds.
Not long after reuniting with Millie (Rachel Bilson, The To Do List), David is nearly killed by a group of assassins called the Paladins.
Thanks to the assistance of a more battle-tested jumper, Griffin (Jamie Bell) David learns of the longstanding war between the jumpers and the Paladins, who plot to kill off all the jumpers for being an aberration before GOD.
Griffin is the one character written with any kind of personality so he easily becomes the most likable and engaging presence. Samuel L. Jackson (Django Unchained) plays the bad guy this time around as Roland, one of the top Paladin assassins.
It’d be interesting to see David S. Goyer’s (Batman Begins) original script as it’d be hard to imagine him not drawing on had more of a comic book/superhero theme to his version. The rewritten script by Simon Kinberg (X-Men: The Last Stand) and Jim Uhls fails to do anything with the intriguing story and their final version lacks any kind of charm, spark or playful fun. And how’d they miss a chance to write a Star Wars reference with both Christensen and Jackson in the film?
Bilson and Christensen don’t display a lot of onscreen chemistry, which is somewhat surprising consider the two began dating while making the film. This could also just be in part to the script as it reduces Millie to the naïve girlfriend and asking Bilson to do little beyond look pretty and scared as needed.
Director Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith), knows how to handle big budget action movies and delivers similar creative battles here. He appears equally bored with the dialogue-heavy moments, but puts together some creative fight scenes that utilize buses and cars are used as weapons and the jump-heavy fight scenes offer that breathless, unpredictable feeling.
If that’s all you want in a summer movie, Jumper should satisfy you, particularly thanks to its brief 88 minute length, but if you need anything more this is going to be a disappointment.
There’s been a lot of rumors about a Jumper 2, and while it’s not on my most-anticipated sequels list, a better script could truly make this world of teleporters leap out of the screen. Until then, this first installment is a decent last resort if you have some time to kill on a rainy afternoon.