Teleporting through the space-time continuum would be a pretty cool thing to do, and the idea makes for an appealing notion to base a movie around. However, in the sci-fi thriller “Jumper,” this amounts to little more than an afterthought as it becomes the latest victim in the style-over-substance ruse.
The story follows David Rice (Hayden “Anakin” Christenson), who discovers at an early age he has the ability to “jump” to random places. With his “divine insight,” he decides to use this superpower to run away from home and get rich by robbing a bank. Eight years later, David reconnects with his childhood crush Millie (Rachel Bilson), only to be hunted down by Agent Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), one of the Paladins, who have vowed to kill all Jumpers. Meanwhile, Griffin (Jamie Bell), a rogue Jumper, helps David square off against the Paladins.
If you head into this film expecting logical answers, you’ll be sorely disappointed, since the writers never bother to explain what little of the plot there is. How one becomes a Jumper and what makes it even possible is left to the audience’s imagination. A few scattered answers are provided on the Paladin side, but who the Paladins are and why they hate the Jumpers so much is never satisfactorily examined.
These plot holes force director Doug Liman, the man behind such acclaimed films as “Swingers” and “The Bourne Identity,” to use every trick he can think of to distract from the story’s shortcomings. The camera is constantly in a swirl of motion, making sure to show off all of the film’s settings. The visual effects are slickly produced, yet when all is said and done, there is little left to show for them in terms of action set pieces. It’s a telling sign of what the once highly touted Liman has been reduced to.
Liman doesn’t get a whole lot of help from the actors either. Christenson, who only got the part because Fox wanted someone with more “star power” than the actor originally cast, is neither good nor bad — he just is. On the other hand, the white-haired Jackson is never given enough time to sink his teeth into the part, and amounts to little more than a stereotypical villain. Bell is the only one who makes an impression, although his character eventually falls prey to the poor writing as well.
While “Jumper’s” flashy ad campaign tried to exhibit how it was going to be something different, it fails to live up to the hype. It’s not the disaster some critics have been pronouncing; it is simply a sub-par sci-fi romp. In the end, its few entertaining moments make it watchable — so long as you don’t think too hard about it.