Doug Liman’s Jumper is not as good of a film as its trailers would lead you to believe. Jumper is a fireworks display of highs and lows. The story starts out following the young life of David Rice (played by Max Thieriot then Hayden Christensen), a high-schooler that has a crush on Millie Harris (played by Anna Sophia Robb then Rachel Bilson). When an accident at a frozen lake endangers David’s life, he teleports to safety, discovering a latent ability he did not know he possessed. With this discovery, he decides to leave the life he knew with his father William Rice (Michael Rooker) behind as his mother Mary Rice (Diane Lane) did when he was five. In the blink of an eye its eight years later and David is now portrayed Hayden Christensen. He has become an IOU-leaving professional bank robber whose modus operandi unfortunately has attracted the attention of the Paladin. The Paladin are a clandestine religious sect who believe a jumper’s ability is a power only God should possess. This group, possibly created by Roman Emperor Constantine the Great at the Scholae Palatinae, has hunted and killed jumpers all over the world for centuries in the name of God.
The Paladin’s lead operative in this film is Roland Cox (Samuel L. Jackson), a man of white hair (denoting purity of soul or mission perhaps) and stern conviction. He poses as a bank robbery specialist from law enforcement upon learning of the unusualness of a recent bank robbery. When Roland finally catches up with David, a confrontation ensues and the action segment of Jumper kicks firmly into gear. Many of the action sequences in Jumper are well done. These sequences soon get to the point where you are simply watching “jump effects” and your emotional attachment to the characters, if it ever existed, lessens and lessens until it is non-existent. In addition, cause and effect, how much voltage and damage the human body can take, basic high school physics, et cetera, seem to go right out of the window by Jumper’s halfway point.
I recently saw Alien versus Predator: Requiem and found that movie to be far more entertaining. Do not get me wrong, Jumper contains thought provoking ideas (Worm holes and so forth) while Alien versus Predator: Requiem brings absolutely none to the table (Alien versus Predator: Requiem is an 80’s action movie thrust into 2008). However, where Alien versus Predator: Requiem kept its momentum (more or less) for the entire film; Jumper squanders it by splicing in a hackneyed romance between Christensen and Bilson, leaving you waiting for the next “jump” or action sequence. The romance is practically worthless and the worst part about it is that the viewer has seen it before. A Walk to Remember was a L.O.U.S.E.Y. adaptation of a great book but at least the romance had a spark mixed with some originality. In Jumper the romance is a flat line from beginning to end. You just do not care about it or its participants. And what you do care about, the mystic built around Jumpers and jumping, is delivered somewhat sloppily in the third act. The promise of this film dwindles by this act and one instance of why involves a Czechian battlefield. Characters in this film jump into an ongoing battle in the Czech Republic, walk around during the conflict and are not shot or even aimed at once. Now that’s realistic. Since this movie is based on a book, a construct of an elongated mental process prone to numerous rewrites and revisions, I expected more. The film’s faults most likely lie with screenwriters David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls and Simon Kinberg and not with Steven Gould.
Jumper is one of those movies where the trailer is better and more entertaining than the film it is advertising. As a concept movie, Jumper succeeds but as an action film, it falls behind the aforementioned Alien versus Predator: Requiem and Rambo. It’s too bad because I had harbored high hopes for this film.