Theatrical Review: Jumper

David Rice is a young man with a unique gift- at the age of 15, David discovered that he could teleport himself to anywhere he can see, and with that talent, David has ran from home (due to troubles with his father) and has spent the last 8 years, giving into his whims financing himself by robbing banks and leaving IOU notes promising to one day pay it all back. But soon, we discover that David isn’t the only person with this ability, and people with this ability (called Jumpers) are being pursued by special government agents (NSA is their cover) called Paladins, and the lead Paladin, an imposing figure named Roland, is soon on David’s trail. David, being back on the run decides to re-establish himself with a girl he was sweet on from high school named Millie, and soon David, along with another Jumper named Griffin, find all Hell breaking loose as the Paladins are on them full force…

… and I dearly wanted the Paladins to win…

… not a good thing for this movie. Jumper is the fifth movie from director Doug Liman, who in the past has given us three great ones (Swingers, Go and The Bourne Identity) and one pretty awful film (Mr. and Mrs. Smith) and Jumper follows suit with his last film, being pretty awful. It’s initial premise (adapted from a novel) isn’t really a bad one at all, but the writing, direction and editing used to execute it doesn’t do it any favors at all.

One of my bigger problems with the film comes at a point where David and Griffin are together and David brings up the Marvel comic book Marvel Team-up and how the two of them are “super-heroes” who should be teaming up to take out the bad guys, namely the Paladins, when the fact of the matter is that throughout the film, these two “heroes” don’t do anything that’s heroic at all, both taking what they want in life and not really caring about any repercussions left behind. And at one point, Griffin decides he’s going to use a bomb to destroy the Paladins in pursuit of them, not at all giving a damn about any of the collateral damage around them. No, what you have here are a couple of nihilistic twenty-somethings who think they know the world, but in reality have no real concept of what’s right or wrong, and to me anyway, these aren’t exactly characters that you can get behind and root for in a movie that obviously wants you to root for them simply because “love” is David’s backbone and of course the Paladins are “the man” trying to put these “free spirits” down. It’s a pretty simplistic and off-kilter moral compass that the film has, and it doesn’t do much to make you give a damn either way.

Another problem that I have with the film is that it’s established through dialog, that Jumpers and Paladins have been around for a few hundred years, though there’s nothing else that really gives you any roots to the history that they’re trying to establish, there’s something here that could be pretty rich for the film had there been a scene or two to establish that further. As far as I know, there very well could’ve been that scene, but the film is edited in such a way to keep the action brisk and just hope that it’s intended audience just won’t even want to ask those questions.

I can’t really blame the actors for any of this- Hayden Christiansen is David, Rachel Bilson plays Millie, a skeevy Jamie Bell is Griffin and the great Samuel L. Jackson plays Roland and I expect they’re all pretty much doing what’s asked of them from the script, though it’s a bit of a waste on a talent like Jackson, who’s not really given much of a chance to be the Sam Jackson that you want him to be here, unless of course those scenes are on the editing room floor.

No the fault for this mess is with director Liman and his scriptwriters (David Goyer being one of them) and his editor. To Liman’s credit though, it is a good-looking film and the visual effects and action is pretty impressive. But that matters not at all here if you don’t have any reason to get behind any of the characters. And maybe some of that is my fault, being in my mid-40s, having had ups and downs in life and knowing the difference between right and wrong, I see these Jumpers as a sort of pseudo-terrorist/criminal and can’t really get behind their free-spirited ideas, so there you go. Maybe if I was a nihilistic twentysomething who knows it all, I’d probably love this one to death…

Yeah, right…

Jumper has the dubious honor of being the first film that I’ve seen in 2008 to be a firm contender for the Worst Movie of the Year… hardly a recommendation at all…

About Darren Goodhart

Darren Goodhart is a 44-year old St. Louis-based Graphic Designer and Illustrator (and former comic book artist) who's been seeing movies all his life, but on an almost weekly basis in theatres for the last 20 years and owns nearly 1,000 DVDs for his home theatre. He's learned a lot about film over the 20 year period, and has taken his appreciation beyond the mainstream. His favorite types of film are mostly genre entertainment, but he also enjoys a wide range of drama, action and cult-y stuff from around the world, and is currently re-discovering a love affair with lower budget exploitation and genre films from the 70s and early 80s. He doesn't try to just dismiss any film, but if there's a bias against one, he'll certainly tell you that in the space of his reviews.

18. February 2008 by Darren Goodhart
Categories: Text Reviews, Theatrical Review | Leave a comment

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