Gerald Wright's Movie Coverage
Directed by: Doug Liman
Running time: 90 minutes
Release date: February 14, 2008
Genre: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Adaptation and Teen
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
MPAA Rating: PG-13
This film adaptation from Steven Gould's 1992 debut novel of the same title, allows director Doug Liman to take the audience on visual ride of special effects, action and intrigue. Unlike most time travel movies, such as, Time Machine (1960), Time Tunnel (1966), Time Bandits (1982) and the Terminator series (starting 1984 - present day t.v. series), this movie gives no sparkling beams or teleportation chambers (Star Trek). In Jumper, one person can teleport himself to anywhere in the world, merely when he puts his mind to it. Wouldn't that by great? Or would it?
David Rice (Hayden Christensen), a 17 year old from Ann Arbor, Michigan, first "jumps" spontaneously in order to save himself from drowning. This takes place after an altercation with a rival over the affection of a girl named Millie (Rachel Bilson). Confused by the incident, he finds himself taking another jump to escape from his abusive single father. Having run away or should I say "teleported" from home, he learns to control his genetic anomalies by learning the two fundamentals of Jumping. First, he learns he can jump anywhere he can see (photographs of locations) and second he can jump anywhere that he has seen before, as long as he has a strong visual memory of it. He learns well enough to survive the streets of New York City and then sets himself up comfortably by robbing a banks via thinking and blinking his way in and out of vaults.
Like most things in life, this good thing comes to an end. In this imaginative tale, there are people hunting him. These people are called "Paladins," led by Hayden Christensens' Star Wars co-star Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson's character is named Roland a tough assassin who is highly trained to kill all "jumpers." Paladins believe that Jumpers can and will alter human life and history. (It's rather strange that the name Paladin is used, because the first thing I thought of was the Western tv series Have Gun - Will Travel starring Richard Boone as the professional hired gunman. Boone's characters name in this tv series which ran 1957-1963 was "Paladin.") David later finds out that he is not the only Jumper. A young man who is a rebel type named Griffin (Jamie Bell) is also in the loop and has his sights on killing Roland before he kills him.
The theme of this movie initially was mystical and fascinating. However, as the plot continues, the film becomes increasingly about only escape scenes and perpetual warps through wormholes of time. What made matters worse was the surprising cameo of Diane Lane in the latter part of the film. Lane portrayed Mary Rice, the long lost runaway mother of David who suddenly enters the film and explains her reason for running away from her son and husband. This sequence added major inconsistencies to the plot. I would tell you more about why I found this plot point to be so inconsistent, but it would be spoiling the story to do so.
After David's eight-year globetrotting escapade, he, of course, returns for his love interest Millie. However, Rachel Bilson's performance never takes off. She really did not pull off a credible action lead or romantic character. I recalled the wonderful chemistry between Natalie Portman and Hayden Christensen in Star Wars. In contrast, when Rachel Bilson appeared with Christensen in this film, there wasn't a spark to be seen between them.
Regarding the special effects in Jumper, I was disappointed. If you are looking for technical virtuosity, you will not find it in this film. The camera work would have been better if it was slower, rather than such quick shots of zipping through the images of the jumpers. Two-thirds of the way through the movie, I began to get a headache from the chase and escape jump scenes.
I can imagine that this may be a good novel, but as a screenplay it displays poor storytelling.
FILM RATING (C)