STARRING: Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Jamie Bell, Max Thieriot, Shawn Roberts, AnnaSophia Robb

2008, 88 Minutes, Directed by:
Doug Liman

Description: A genetic anomaly allows a young man to teleport himself anywhere. He discovers this gift has existed for centuries and finds himself in a war that has been raging for thousands of years between "Jumpers" and those who have sworn to kill them.

Great story idea, mediocre execution.

What if you can teleport to anywhere on the globe instantaneously just by thinking it? This is the amazing superpower possessed by a teenager (played by Hayden Christensen) in Jumper. You can have breakfast in Egypt, go for a stroll in Germany’s Black Forest before going surfing in Mali and catching lunch in Cape Town. And that’s all just on one day . . .

And of course you can teleport yourself right in and out of bank vaults and take all the money you need, which is what our hero immediately does upon discovering his “gift”. Life would be one hedonistic joyride, right?

Well, that’d make for a dull movie, so Jumper has a shadowy organization headed by a yellow-haired Samuel L. Jackson who hunt down and kill people with such a teleporting gift (called “jumpers”). The organization is called “the Paladins” and has been killing jumpers out of supposed religious conviction since the “Middle Ages” we are told. You’d think they would be at a disadvantage as they possess no superpowers of their own, but they have all kinds of neat toys and gizmos such as an electric bolt machine that prevents jumpers from teleporting (electricity does that somehow).

"Why does an undercover operative who is not supposed to call attention to himself sport one of the silliest haircuts in living memory?"

There also seems to be an endless supply of Paladin henchmen spread right across the globe at a moment’s notice they can be mobilized when such and such a jumper has been spotted. Plus the high-tech gizmos they use must have cost a pretty penny just to develop. We however learn very little about the Paladins: who backs them financially? Besides the whole religious thing, why bother hunting down jumpers? Only God must be allowed to be everywhere at once, Jackson tells Christensen at one point. Personally we think that the Paladins are simply jealous of the jumpers. “You think you can go on like this forever?” Jackson gloats at one point when he has Christensen’s character at a disadvantage. “Living like this with no consequences? There are always consequences . . .”

But jealousy and religious dogma only goes so far at some point you’ll need some serious capital outlay to pay those global operatives that are on perpetual standby. Or do the Paladins take the jumpers’ money? Jumper however never answers this and a few other questions. (Such as why an undercover operative such as Samuel L. Jackson who is not supposed to call attention to himself sports one of the silliest haircuts in living memory!)

But Jumper’s biggest problem isn’t the various unanswered questions it leaves lying around. Its biggest problem is that once the movie has established its thrilling premise, it all just fizzles out with a really dull patch before going for an all-out action finale that is high on its special effects quotient, but is edited so fast that at times that it is often difficult to follow. Who is teleporting where? Where is character A in relation to character B? It all just happens too fast. With traditional action sequences such as car chases such fast editing might be acceptable, but when you have a novel concept such as teleporting opponents then giving the cinema audience the tiniest of breathers to catch up on what is happening is a good idea.

Jumper’s other big problem is of course Hayden Christensen, Young Darth Vader in the Star Wars prequels. The wooden Christensen has improved as an actor since Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith, but that isn’t saying much. He is still a liability: his acting range in Jumper veers between stiff and smug. No wonder they had to make the villains murderous religious fanatics because otherwise how else are we supposed to accept charisma-free good-looking young model types with god-like superpowers as the heroes of the piece? Add some really loud rock music and scenes involving a sports car and it suddenly feels as if you’re stuck in one of the Fast & the Furious movies!

On the plus side, Jumper boasts an intriguing concept. It also has some nice international locations although one wishes that the movie would linger on them instead of the actors a bit more. (One question: why do the pyramids always appear so much bigger in movies than they do in real life?) The point is that Jumper isn’t all that bad – it’d make an okay-ish brainless rental one Friday evening. But it could have been a whole lot better, something worth forking over a full admittance ticket for.

Expect critics to make a lot of “we wish we could have teleported right out of cinemas showing it” cracks . . .



blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest Headlines

Most Popular

Copyright © 1997-forward James O'Ehley/The Sci-Fi Movie Page (unless where indicated otherwise).