Movie Review – Jumper
– Summary –
Director : Doug Liman
Year Of Release : 2008
Principal Cast : Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell, Rachel Bilson, Samuel L Jackson, Diane Lane, Michael Rooker, Teddy Dunn, Kristen Stewart, Tom Hulce, Barbara Garrick.
Approx Running Time : 88 Minutes
Synopsis: A young man with the power to “jump” anywhere in the world instantly is pursued by people who don’t want him to have that power.
What we think : Consider this film the poster-child for unfulfilled desire and wasted potential. A wooden Christensen is given little to do other than pout and cry, while Samuel L Jackson looks positively redonkulous. Jumper is a waste.
No, it’s not the latest fashionable woollen garment.
It’s a film starring Anakin himself, Hayden Christensen, as a man able to “jump” to alternate places around the world. Like Captain Kirk beaming from the Enterprise, so too can Christensen’s character, David Rice, who vanishes from one point, only to appear instantly in another. The act of “jumping” has caused, however, a bit of difficulty for the hierarchy, who call upon Paladin Samuel L Jackson to capture the renegade. You see, David has become somewhat of a god-like entity, roaming the planet with his ability and living the high life. Bank vaults are no match for a man who can simply “jump” inside and steal all the money he wants.
Of course, the Paladins don’t like the idea of somebody able to free themselves of the constraints of law and order, so they become a kind of task force dedicated to capturing these people and stopping them. This, eventually, brings David into conflict with them.
While on a whirlwind tour of Rome with his new flame Millie (Rachel Bilsen), David find he’s not the only one with the ability to Jump. Jamie Bell, who plays Griffin, a fellow Jumper, is a lot less cavalier than David, although he is aware of the Paladin’s and brings David up to speed on what they want and who they are.
From there, it’s a space-bending adventure film pitting somebody able to be anywhere they want, whenever they want, against somebody who doesn’t want them to be able to.
According to the internet, that vast bastion of accurate knowledge and porn, Jumper is based somewhat loosely upon a novel written in the 90’s by a guy called Stephen Gould, however, never having read said novel, I cannot attest to it’s differences or similarities. That said, however, Jumper would appear to be a film that, like many a novel-into-film projects before it, fails to match up to what was obviously a great little conceit.
Jumper is a rollercoaster of ideas, themes and action sequences, none of which really add up to a cohesive whole. The concept is staggeringly cool, however the direction, under the hand of Bourne Identity & Mr & Mrs Smith helmer Doug Liman, is empty and hollow. The script calls for faux emotion, save for a great performance by Michael Rooker as David’s estranged father, and Christensen is as wooden as ever in this. He struggles with the deeper concepts on offer here, and his chemistry with Bilsen is about as realistic as early Disney. What he does do, however, is bring a slight gravitas to the effects: after all, once you’ve worked with Lucas and his digital empire building, you can pretty much deal with anything, right? Bilsen looks like a deer caught in the headlights here, utterly out of her depth acting wise, and without a great character to try and develop.. the script gives her nothing to work with.
Bell, who wowed the world as Billy Elliot, seems to be in the wrong film; his attitude and charisma sadly don’t add anything of value to the story. Still, it’s good to see him in something that doesn’t involve dancing. Jackson, having a wonderful time hamming it up as the white-haired Paladin Roland, seems more at home in this film than any of his co-stars. Perhaps he’s the only one in on the joke. Not sure, but he gives his clunky dialogue more credence than it is really worth.
How does a film like this, with a great crew and a relatively decent cast, screw up such a cool premise? The film lumbers along aimlessly, lacking cohesive direction from behind the camera and utterly diabolical dialogue in moments of outright stupidity. The action scenes and effects are first rate, however, and I guess this will be the films saving grace. But effects and action do not a great film make, on their own. You need characters you can hang your hopes on, empathise with and get to know. Here, the characters are merely cliches, cardboard ring-ins with little or no backstory save the obligatory and the nonsensical.
Still, the film looks and sounds great on DVD. I originally saw this film on a flight between Singapore and London…. okay, not the most conducive environment to enjoy a film, I know, but still….. I didn’t like it much then, and I agree with that initial assessment now. It’s a film with so much potential, that manages to duck and dodge that potential like one of the Jumpers in the film. Entertaining at only the most basic level, this will never win awards for scripting or acting, and will only keep the CGI boys happy in most cases.
Disappointing, Jumper rates low without reservation.
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