The Scoop: 2008 PG-13, directed by Doug Liman and starring Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell and Rachel Bilson
Tagline: Anywhere is possible.
Summary Capsule: Guy discovers superpower, gets chased, girl tags along for the ride.
Justin’s Rating: Does Nightcrawler know you’re stealing his thing?
Justin’s Review: “We got a jumper!” “Don’t come any closer, I’m warning you! I’ll do it!” “Don’t jump, kid, you have so much to live for!” “Oh, okay.” And then the crowd waiting on the street below applauds now that they won’t have a 140-pound young adult falling onto their heads.
Yeah, this isn’t that sort of movie. Just in case you were wondering.
Based on the cult 1992 novel, Jumper introduces you to David Rice (Max Thieriot/Hayden Christensen), an abused teen who discovers that he has the power of teleportation. If he can see it, if he’s been there, or if he looks at a photo of it, he can jump to it instantaneously. It’s a superpower that’s been given as a consolation prize to some second-tier X-Men and the like, but never looked at as closely as author Stephen Gould did. Think about it: if you had the ability to go anywhere, at any time, taking whatever you want with you, what would that mean for your life? Beyond saving a chunk on gas money, it opens up dozens of questions into the ethics and morality of a human with a super-human potential.
Both novel and film begin roughly the same: abuse and panic triggers his latent “jumping” ability, and David goes on the run to NYC. There, nearly broke and homeless, he realizes that jumping allows him to break many rules, including the one of “thou shalt not steal from bank vaults”. Over the course of one night, David goes from being penniless to a millionaire, and the world is his slimy oyster.
Here, the movie veers away from the more introspective plot of the book and towards a landscape littered with gratuitous CGI. I know Christensen is trying hard to distance himself from the Star Wars-only image most folks have for him, but this vapid special effects fest wasn’t the best of moves. Plus, appearing in a movie to battle Samuel L. Jackson is only going to make people think “Woo! Darth Vader versus Mace Windu!”
All too quickly, the fun of exploring teleportation’s possibilities is over, leaving David to jitter through the rest of the plot looking unhappy and dragging an even more unhappy-looking girl along with him. Apparently, there are more jumpers than just him, and over the centuries they have been hunted by quasi-religious technowarriors known as “Paladins”, who claim that jumpers must be killed because “being everywhere is only a power that God should have.”
Excuse me and my first year of seminary experience, but the ability to travel anywhere instantaneously is not the same as God’s omnipresence. But this sort of theological thinking would put the Paladins out of a job, and since jumper-killing is so lucrative and offers a really nice dental package, they ignore the obvious and go on trying to electrify jumpers so that there’s only a piece of human-shaped charcoal teleporting around the world in misery. I’d hate to see what they’d do to the Star Trek crew and their transporter antics.
Both fans of the novel and any clear-thinking person could see that Jumper had a lot of potential. The action sequences are technically well-done, such as when a jumper hijacks a British double-decker bus to the Sahara desert as a way to crush a Paladin, but if there’s no humanity, characterization or story behind it all, it’s just a clanging of gongs and cymbals.
What’s worse is that Jumper doesn’t even try to tie up what little story it has, electing instead to set up for a (proposed) trilogy of teleportation-and-moping movies. There’s nothing I hate more than a movie that hasn’t even proved itself assuming that I’m going to stick around for the next one. Fat chance.
- The crew was allowed to film inside the Colosseum for three days, under 3 conditions: no equipment could be placed on the ground, they could only shoot from 6:30 to 8:30 am and 3:30 to 5:30 pm to avoid disturbing tourists, and the only lighting allowed was natural sunlight.
- David Ritchie, a set-dresser on the Toronto shoot, was killed while dismantling part of the set
David Rice: You live in a cave.
Griffin: It’s called a lair.
Roland: Only God should have this power.
Roland: You think it could go on like this forever? Living like this with no consequences? There are always consequences!
David Rice: Let me tell you about my day so far. Coffee in Paris, surfed the Maldives, took a little nap on Kilimanjaro. Oh, yeah, I got digits from this Polish chick in Rio. And then I jumped back for the final quarter of the N.B.A. finals–courtside of course. And all that was before lunch. I could go on, but all I’m saying is, I’m standing on top of the world.
Griffin: Big coliseum, guy peeing… it’s not a fashion show, can you give me some space?
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