Review

Jumper Review

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Feb 14, 2008 | 12:25pm EST

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.

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