David Rice (Hayden Christensen) was once just like every other angst-ridden parent-hating teenager--that is until he discovered his gift the greatest imaginable pastime/escape ever: teleporting. Since then David has been on the er run and living the ultimate dream. On any given day for instance David could have coffee in Paris and attend the NBA Finals in New Orleans all before lunchtime--which is precisely what tickles his whimsy in the beginning of Jumper. But teleporting like every other superhuman feat is not without its consequences. First he has to keep his special power a secret from his girlfriend Millie (Rachel Bilson); second he has competition from other Jumpers around the globe namely the cynical Griffin (Jamie Bell); and third there is a group called the Paladins currently led by Agent Roland (Samuel L. Jackson) that has been at war with the Jumpers for thousands of years and sworn to kill ‘em all. Suddenly what David thought was complete freedom puts his and Millie’s life at risk. Amongst other areas like writing and direction (see below) Jumper is a victim of its own miscasting. Star Wars veterans Christensen and Jackson lead the way in that department. Christensen has yet to prove that he can do much beyond his tense dramatic turn in Shattered Glass but unfortunately keeps trying. As Jumper’s heroic protagonist the only quality he can pull off is looking younger during flashbacks; otherwise he is stiff too intense and simply no fun in a role that calls for it. Jackson meanwhile stars in so many movies that he’s bound to misfire here and there (OK maybe more frequently than that). If you’re able to get past his ridiculous white hair enough to digest the acting you’ll see that his badass persona doesn’t jibe with a character who’s something of a villainous ghost buster. Resurging actor Bell (Billy Elliot) out-energizes everyone in his supporting role and seems to understand better than Christensen what was wanted from his character while former O.C.-er Bilson is hardly even noticeable. Michael Rooker (Cliffhanger) and Diane Lane are barely around as David’s parents with the latter ostensibly cast in the tragic event a sequel should arise. Uh no. For director Doug Liman sci-fi is really the only genre he is yet to conquer or try to conquer and was thus a logical next step in a successful career. He’s done dramedy (Swingers) action (The Bourne Identity) and crime-comedy (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) all with nice results. Well apparently he’s found his kryptonite: sci-fi (if this movie can truly be classified as such). Jumper based on Steven Gould’s novel of the same name is all about the snappiness that has become Liman’s signature but it’s actually far too quick and light on details in an age where Lost and Heroes fanboys and girls demand much more than special effects. The movie is itself something of a Jumper quick to use its premise as an escape route when things could potentially get intriguing. Surprisingly the empty story can be attributed partly to two contemporary masters of genre screenwriting David S. Goyer (Batman Begins The Dark Knight) and Simon Kinberg (Mr. and Mrs. Smith X-Men: The Last Stand) as well as Jim Uhls (Fight Club). But ultimately the hollow look and feel of Jumper--including its second-rate special effects--falls on Liman who completely blows an opportunity to adapt a concept loaded with big-screen potential.
It seems street-smart magician David Blaine's distinctive brand of urban magic--mind reading, sleight of hand and his now famous levitation--caught the attention of quite a few Hollywood hot shots several years ago, including veteran actor Robert De Niro.
Performing his tricks at trendy clubs and restaurants across both coasts, Blaine soon found himself adored by legions of stars--Madonna, Spike Lee, Jack Nicholson, Arnold Schwarzenegger and David Geffen. He captured the heart of singer-songwriter Fiona Apple, though they've since broken up, and more recently he's been attached to Cover Girl model Josie Moran.
Now that's a life of which movies are made, and De Niro took notice.
In 1997 the "goodfella" bought the rights to make a film about Blaine's life, and rumors have circulated that Leonardo DiCaprio--a known associate of Blaine's who also happens to be dating a model, Brazil's finest Gisele Bündchen--would star.
Big names, cool project, magic, guys who date models and rock stars--it has all the makings of a potential Hollywood blockbuster. So Hollywood.com decided to investigate the movie, and the people attached to it, in this first installment of our newest column, Hot Projects.
In with the in crowd
It all started in 1997, when ABC gave Blaine, then 24, his first television special, David Blaine: Street Magic. Here's the connection. DiCaprio hosted it. Blaine became an overnight success (the network later went on to produce three other specials, David Blaine: Magic Man, David Blaine: Buried Alive and David Blaine: Frozen in Time), and the Titanic star and the good looking trickster with grunge appeal became buds.
Before he knew it, Blaine was running around town partying with DiCaprio's posse, which included Tobey Maguire, Lukas Haan and skateboarder Tony Hawk. The posse was known for tearing up the New York club scene and obsessing over--you guessed it--models.
But DiCaprio and Blaine reportedly had a falling out. Some sources blamed it on DiCaprio's bratty behavior and jealousy over the attention Blaine was receiving; others rumored it was over a woman. She was probably a model.
Whatever the reason, suffice it to say DiCaprio will not be starring in the film.
"It is not confirmed," DiCaprio's publicist Ken Sunshine said about the role. "It's a lie."
So that's settled. No word yet on who will play Leo.
The De Niro connection
In addition to owning the rights to the story, it's been said that De Niro will star in the film as a magician who takes Blaine under his wing. While MGM Pictures confirmed that Trick Monkey is on their development list, publicists for De Niro's production company, Tribeca Productions, which develops projects in which De Niro serves as producer, director and/or actor, said they had no information available on the film.
Jim Uhls, whose last project was Fight Club starring Brad Pitt, has already written the screenplay.
No one's talking about who will play Blaine's various love interests.
We can tell De Niro's future
Well, we know this much anyway. We'll see several other De Niro projects before this one ever comes to fruition. In Showtime, about cops who go on a reality TV show to boost the department's image, De Niro stars with Eddie Murphy and Rene Russo. That just wrapped last month. Also wrapped are About a Boy, starring Hugh Grant, Rachel Weisz, Toni Collette and De Niro, and City by the Sea starring De Niro, Frances McDormand and James Franco.
Along with Billy Crystal, De Niro is also currently in talks to reprise his role as Paul Vitti in a sequel to Analyze This, Analyze This Too.
In 2001 Blaine will bring his magic show to Broadway, and Villard Books publish will his first book, Mysterious Stranger this fall.