Saturday, February 16, 2008


The bar for mediocrity has been set lower. Granted, you can never expect anything good to come out of first quarter releases, but this science fiction, globe trotting romp takes that expectation even lower. I'm normally a fan of the science fiction genre (preferably stories that contain some sort of genuine subtext or commentary) but Jumper lacks anything that even resembles substance.

I'm trying to remember the last time Hayden Christiansen was in a movie I didn't hate. And Samuel L. Jackson has not been faring too well recently either. Having the two of them in this movie might be an attempt to bring in audiences, but if they keep appearing in movies like this, that won't last much longer. I had hopes for O.C alum Rachel Bilson. She was ample in Last Kiss, but Jumper has planted seeds of doubt.

Christiansen plays David Rice, a young man who discovers that he can teleport. It's only a matter of time before he becomes aware that he is not the only one. He meets Griffin (Jamie Bell), another Jumper who tells him of a war between the Jumpers and a The Paladins- a group that hunts the Jumpers. Roland (Jackson), a Paladin, obsessively pursues the two of them for very little apparent reason aside from "You're an abomination." Unwittingly caught in the middle of all this is Millie (Bilson), Rice's romantic interest.

Sure it may have the makings of a fun movie, and if you suspend any concept of quality, it may be enjoyable. But it just fell flat at every turn. The one scene of Nightcrawler teleporting in x-Men 2 left the effects in this entire movie in its dust. There were a few interesting scenes, including a foot chase that traversed the globe. Having them go from fighting on top of the Great Pyramid, to the Golden Gate Bridge, to a war torn country just seems a little hokey, though. These were still the better parts.

The characters and the story are the bad parts. I don't think I have ever seen a movie with less exposition. We are dropped right into the middle of this with Rice robbing a bank. Yeah, the hero of the movie- the person we're supposed to identify with- robs banks. We don't know why he's like this, or really anything about him. After having disappeared for years, he returns to a local bar and runs into Millie- evidently a girl he knew in high-school. After a quick catching up (all lies) and a quick fist-fight, she agrees to go to Rome with him. What?! How does this pass as plot or character development?

It gets even worse. Later on when she is drawn into it, she finds out that Rice has lied about everything. Not to mention he kidnaps her and puts her life in danger. How does she respond to this? After a brief period of anger, and Rice rescues her from Roland (who was using her for bait), she professes her love for him. I think a restraining order might be the more logical reaction.

I'm not even going to attempt to go into Roland's motivation in his hunt for the white whale. Apparently the Paladins have been fighting the Jumpers for thousands of years. Seems like an awful lot of time and effort to track an infinitesimally small fraction of the population. All of this is justified under the mantra "You all go bad." The only character I remotely understood was Griffin. He was the only one who reacted logically to situations. When Rice started causing trouble, he tried to distance himself. He was going to do what it took to survive, even if it meant sacrificing Millie. Granted, this wasn't exactly going to qualify him for sainthood, but he was reacting realistically.

I get almost insulted by movies like this. Fortunately at 70 minutes, it wasn't a waste of all that much time. I can't make this a total bomb, because there are certainly people they may enjoy it. Just to give you both sides, the message boards on IMDB are lit up with glowing assessments. It may be that I just missed something in this movie, but I doubt it.


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