Jumper


I really hate it when a movie that I was really excited about seeing ends up completely disappointing me once I finally get the opportunity to watch it. Such was the case with the recent release of “Jumper” from director Doug Liman (“The Bourne Identity” and “Mr. and Mrs. Smith”), starring Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, and Jamie Bell. The previews were entertaining, showcasing the film’s impressive visual effects, and showing what turned out to be the best scenes from star Hayden Christensen’s performance, in order to paint him in a much more positive light in regards to his less than stellar acting ability. Not surprising to me and many others was the fact that the film was universally panned by the majority of critics across the nation, yet I still wanted to see the movie, because I figured it would still be entertaining due to the fact that critics generally despise science-fiction, and well I generally disagree with them on that genre. Sadly, after watching the film, I now find myself having to say that I completely agree with the throng of critics that blasted the film, and I feel like I wasted 90 minutes of my life that I will never get back on what is possibly the worst film of 2008.

“Jumper” is the story of David Rice (Hayden Christensen), a man who was bullied throughout his childhood and ends up leaving the love of his life, a girl named Millie (Rachel Bilson) to start over, and is now living the good life with all the wealth he could possibly imagine. He’s a man who appears to have everything a person could ask for, except he’s never had to work for any of it; instead, he uses his amazing ability to teleport from place to place taking anything and everything he wants for himself. David believes he is the only one of his kind until he meets another ‘jumper’ named Griffin (Jamie Bell) who warns him of a group known as the Paladins, that are led by a mysterious and deadly man named Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), their goal is to find and eliminate all ‘jumpers’ from the face of the Earth. Now, David finds himself stuck in the middle of a war he doesn’t understand, with the fate of not only himself but everyone he cares about hanging in the balance.

While I was watching “Jumper” a couple of things went through my mind over the course of the film. First, is the extreme confusion in regards to why executives in Hollywood continue to believe that Hayden Christensen (best known for his work in the ‘Star Wars’ prequels) is even a remotely decent actor? Lets face it the man cannot act, he was mediocre at best in his first starring role in the smash hit “Star Wars – Episode 2: Attack of the Clones” and seemed a little bit more comfortable and skilled in “Star Wars – Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith”; however, even in those films (which are by far his best work to date) he was nothing to be all that impressed by as far as his acting talent was concerned. In the recent release “Awake” co-starring Jessica Alba, I thought Hayden had possibly improved his acting game to the point that he was finally an average movie star, but with his work in “Jumper” he quickly put that thought to rest, and firmly cemented himself in my mind as quite possibly the worst actor in all of Hollywood. Well, now that I’ve got that tirade out of the way I can continue on with what other thoughts occurred to me while I was watching this sub-par movie.

The next thing I wonder is why is it that good, sometimes even great actors lower their standards in order to star in drivel such as this. Veteran actor Samuel L. Jackson (‘Star Wars’ prequels) has made so many great movies throughout his career, along with a few stinkers along the way as any actor does from time to time, but why would he even be remotely interested in wasting his considerable talents on this movie is beyond me. The same goes for Diane Lane (“Untraceable”) who has gained more and more credibility as an actress in Hollywood throughout the last decade or so, but then she does a film like this, and you wonder if maybe she’s starting to lose her ability to discern between good and bad movie roles. My only guess, and the only way that I figure these stars can keep their respect and reputations intact, is that they only made “Jumper” for the paycheck, which I would hope was a ridiculously large amount, otherwise the choice just doesn’t make sense to me.

The story in “Jumper” began with some possibility of being interesting to me, but then things began to unravel when Hayden Christensen began speaking his lines as blandly as possible. Aside from that, the story quickly appeared to be too shallow to really draw me into this supposedly ancient war between ‘jumpers’ and the zealous Paladins. I wanted more depth to be given to what drives the Paladins to hunt the ‘jumpers’, explanation as to why the ‘jumpers’ always seem to commit crime instead of using their ability for good, and most importantly what the writers were thinking when they chose to make the hero of the movie, Hayden’s character David, into such an idiot and a weakling. I mean he’s always getting caught, and whenever he gets into a fight he always gets his rear handed to him, that is until he teleports to achieve the upper hand, but in a fair fight he always loses, how are we supposed to root for someone like that. Not to mention the fact that when the other ‘jumpers’ are caught by the Paladins they seem to have a much harder time of escaping, yet David escapes with relative ease by comparison, and his partner in crime, Griffin (Jamie Bell) even points out how stupid David is for getting caught all the time when he makes the statement, “How is it you have survived this long?” (or something along those lines). All in all, the story written by Simon Kinberg (“Mr. and Mrs. Smith”), who rewrote the film after two previous scripts from writers David S. Goyer (“Batman Begins”) and Jim Uhl (“Fight Club”) were rejected by the film’s director Doug Liman, was full of so many holes and instances in the story where it seemed the audience was just supposed to fill in the gaps to make the movie make sense, that I wonder if there was a lot of content that had been edited out of the final film, and if a director’s cut of “Jumper” would possibly make for a better movie experience, although I don’t think I could sit through any more of Hayden’s horrible acting in this film than I already have.

From a visual effects standpoint, “Jumper” is virtually flawless thanks to the extremely talented group at Weta Digital (“Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer”). The teleportation sequences are fun, and at first are exciting to see; however, the film uses the effect so much that it becomes tiresome and each ‘jump’ sequence looks and feels just like the last to where you don’t look forward to seeing them anymore. Now, I’ve seen special effects be repeated within movies before (“bullet time” in the critically acclaimed “The Matrix”), but generally when an effect is used more than once something is done to make it feel different than the previous, and that just did not seem to be the case in “Jumper”. I don’t know if the increasingly bland feeling I had towards the film’s over-reliance on the same effect was because of a lack of imagination on Weta’s part (which I doubt, given their stellar work in the past) or a lack of imagination and/or creativity on behalf of director Doug Liman (which is where I’m more inclined to assign the blame for not only this, but the entire failure of this movie).

Overall, “Jumper” had the potential to be an extremely entertaining, science-fiction action adventure film; however, weak acting, an overly simplistic storyline, and visual effects that went from brilliant to boring brought this film quickly to its knees and left me feeling like I lost a couple of brain cells in the process of having to turn my brain off in order to even sit through the 90 minute run time for the film.

“Jumper” is rated PG-13 for violence, language, and sexuality.

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