Starring: Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Diane Lane, Jamie Bell, Rachel Bilson. Rated PG-13.
Jumper is a mess of hasty
exposition and arbitrary plot twists, slapped together in a superhero movie
that lacks any sense of wonder. It was inspired – if that is the word -- by
Steven Gould’s popular science-fiction novel about a teenager who escapes his abusive
father by teleporting around the globe, engaging in petty mischief and robbing
his way into a Manhattan penthouse. It is an ability that Doug Liman’s film
never really explains, though it must have made for an exotic shoot.
who jumpstarted his career
with Swingers and realized his longtime
dream of adapting The Bourne Identity
for the screen, has long made movies that reflect his directorial style –
haphazard, chaotic and frenetically fast-paced. Jumper is all those things, but it hardly achieves the visual
style or narrative competence he displayed in those earlier projects. As a
travelogue, it makes a compelling case for Rome, Egypt and Tokyo as vacation
destinations. As a story, it is stillborn.
If you really
could teleport, that
would be amazing, wouldn’t it? Try telling that to David Rice (Hayden
Christensen), the high-school misfit turned globetrotting playboy who discovers
his ability to circumvent the space-time continuum after a rough day in the
schoolyard. David takes the revelation in stride and packs his bags – it’s off
to New York for a crash course in bank robbing and art collecting. One might
expect him to be shocked at the realization of such a life-changing
development, but David is a portrait of preternatural calm – an odd choice, but
one that neatly summarizes Christensen’s performance, which could generously be
described as minimalist.
The shock begins to register
Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), a voluble sort with a close-cropped bright white
dye job, arrives on David’s doorstep with his arsenal of expensive-looking
weaponry. Roland is the religious-minded leader of a clan dedicated to
exterminating all Jumpers. David wisely decides it’s time to relocate.
From there, the story careens
through a series of increasingly unlikely twists. David reunites with his
high-school crush (Rachel Bilson) for a romantic jaunt to the Roman Colosseum.
He forms a tenuous alliance with Griffin (Jamie Bell), a fellow Jumper who
claims to have spent the past decade tracking David’s every move. (Why?) And
then there’s Roland, who dedicates a seemingly limitless stream of resources to
the hunt, despite his lack of a day job.
Jumper seems to have been crafted as a prequel of sorts – it
the first film in a proposed trilogy about the ongoing war between the Jumpers
and their sworn rivals, whose motivations are about as murky as everyone
else’s. Characters are introduced and quickly forgotten, each as disposable as
the last. Perhaps it’s no wonder Christensen, Bilson and Jackson seem to
sleepwalk through their underwritten roles. They’re bored. So are we.