Director: Doug Liman (Swingers, Go, Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith)
Screenplay: David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls, Simon Kinberg
Novel: Steven Gould
Producers: Simon Kinberg, Stacy Maes, Jay Sanders, Lucas Foster
Starring: Hayden Christiansen, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Jaimie Bell, Diane Lane, Michael Rooker
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 90 min
I‘m always on the lookout for a fun, smart, sci-fi adventure movie that doesn’t delve into the trashy world of comic books, but simply asks the question, “what if?” Jumper covers this genre remarkably well and I was surprised to find myself smiling as I left the theater really wanting more. Which, as I’ll explain, I’m sure we’ll get very soon.
Jumper starts with a troubled young kid just trying to make his way through high school with the normal stuff high school boys have to deal with: bullies, girls, parents, etc. Unexpectedly one day he finds he has a unique gift. He’s able to teleport his body from place to place instantaneously any time he chooses. What would any young man do with this kind of power? Use the power for personal gain of course. David steals money, travels the world impressing woman and getting anything he’s always wanted. Not to mention you don’t have to stand up to reach the remote control, just “jump” to it.
Flashing forward, we see David as an adult (Hayden Christiansen) and what his life has become: a stress free, breeze through life with no worries, a swank apartment, nice cars and a bit of pompousness to his persona. This is at least until an unexpected vistor (Sam Jackson) shows up at his apartment asking strange questions and ultimately attacking David with sophistacated equipment rendering David’s jump ability useless. David does narrowly escape and for the first time discovers he’s not alone in the world with his ability and also finds himself in a war that he wants no part of.
I think what I liked most about the movie is that the story itself is completely believable. Instead of taking on a super-hero aspect, David does exactly what I would do if I discovered this ability. I’d make my life as enjoyable and fun as possible. Taking vacations everyday all over the world and getting exactly what I want, whenever I want. Though a bit arrogant, David is a good person at heart, he just has nothing or no one to care about and therefore seems to have little regard for others around him or society as a whole.
Once David is attacked the first time and realizes he’s being hunted in an attempt to eradicate him and others like him, the film uses a good deal of neat effects to show off some pretty fun action sequences. For the most part, these action scenes are well edited and easy to follow; despite the constant jumping from location to location (whether it be six feet or 6000 miles). A swift car ride through the city is particularly exhillerating. This is the type of movie that just wouldn’t work without a huge budget behind it and Jumper obviously has that as everything looks fantastic. One quick fight scene in the Roman Colliseum does tend to get a tad confusing as to who is who and a bit too much shaky cam, but other than that, each action sequence is accessable and quite a ride.
Hayden Christiansen is a guy who takes a lot of flak for a lot of his roles (for good reason). He has had some decent performances however if one is willing to dig for them (Shattered Glass, Factory Girl). Jumper appears to be a role perfect for Christiansen’s particular style. Though obvioulsy not award caliber, Hayden works perfectly for this role and at no point was I groaning or rolling my eyes as I did in some of his previous efforts.
Samuel L. Jackson is… well, Sam Jackson again. Nothing new there and to be honest, I’m getting a little tired of his “schtick” (more Black Snake Moan please Mr. Jackson!). Rachel Bilson is here for the hottie/damsel in distress factor and throw in other vets like Diane Lane, Michael Rooker and Jaimie Bell and you see that the support around Christiansen is fairly strong and all work well with what they’re given.
What they’re given. That’s the problem. My only real big problem with the movie is a lot of the dialogue is horrendous. Often feeling more like a Thursday afternoon soap-opera than a multi-million dollar, sci-fi extravanganzza, Jumper can get a little frustrating at times. I don’t like to feel frustrated during my cinematic experience. Hence, the film makers seem to realize this and the nails on a chalkboard moments seem to last a very short time and we’re quickly moved on to another, more fun chapter.
The ending may be another snag for some people to wrap themselves around. I have to admit a little bit of a “that’s all there is?” feeling with the final chapter. With a running time of only 88 minutes, I guess I was expecting a little bit more of a climactic duel or fight sequence instead of an open ended storyline with lots of lingering questions. Thinking about it later, I discovered that I’m quite pleased with the ending and the possibilities for the inevitable sequel are several fold. I really appreciate a different ending than the one that was expected. Usually, anything unexpected is a good thing; as is the case with Jumper.
So as popcorn flicks go, I have very little problem with the ones we’ve been exposed to thus far in 2008. Jumper is a good time and short enough that I’d be willing to experience again. I’m sure that if picked apart one could find several holes big enough to jump through, but what fun would that be? If you’re all caught up with the Oscar material still lingering in theaters, I can’t come up with a reason why you shouldn’t spend some time and money on Jumper.
Click “play” to see the trailer: