Diane Lane, Michael Rooker
- Rated PG-13
- Buy the DVD
All photos © 20th Century Fox
Reviewed by David Medsker
t’s a miracle that “Jumper” works as well as it does. Thanks to its 88-minute running time, no aspect of the story is given the chance to breathe, resulting in a movie that is as flighty as its lead character. To make matters worse, that lead character is played by one of the most wooden actors of his or any other generation, and he’s being chased by Samuel L. Jackson in white hair. It’s as if they’re trying to torpedo their own movie before it leaves the ground, and yet “Jumper” still finds a way to overcome its many obstacles. But damn, could it have been better.
The movie begins with an awkward teen named David (Max Theriot) who discovers that he is a “jumper,” someone who can teleport from place to place. David runs away from home at 15, supporting himself by using his newfound abilities to knock off the occasional bank. Eight years later, David (now played by Hayden Christensen) returns home to see his childhood crush Millie (Rachel Bilson), whom he hasn’t seen since the day he discovered his new talent. Problems arise when he attracts the attention of both Roland (Jackson), an agent for a centuries-old group that hunts and kills jumpers in the name of God, and Griffin (Jamie Bell), a fellow jumper with designs of killing Roland.
Storytelling dictates that Roland is going to use Millie as bait to capture David – they tell us as much in the trailer – but the relationship between David and Millie is handled so poorly, the reaction her abduction elicits is less “Oh no, Millie’s in trouble!” than it is “Man, she does not deserve any of this.” The movie rushes to separate them, and it rushes even faster to bring them back together; she hasn’t seen or heard from him in eight years – in fact, no one is even sure if he is still alive – but she’s going to drop everything to fly to Rome with him? That makes as much sense as when David starts calling Griffin by name completely out of the blue. His name’s Griffin? When did they tell us that his name is…oh, never mind.
So yes, the movie is not about a story so much as it’s about an idea, and that idea is the one thing that director Doug Liman gets oh so right. The jumper sequences are fabulous, and just when you think he’s given up the money shot, Liman unveils an even sweeter money shot. Not even Christensen’s non-acting – Kevin Weisman’s “Mannequin Skywalker” line from “Clerks II” comes to mind – is enough to spoil the fun. Bilson doesn’t fare much better, but she’s given so little to work with, you pretty much expect her to fail from the very beginning. Not even Jackson, who usually makes everything better – or at least more interesting – makes much of an impact. In fact, the movie is not really about the acting, at all.
“Jumper” is easily Liman’s weakest movie – fans of Liman movies like “Go,” “Swingers” and “The Bourne Identity” would be wise to check their brains at the door – but it still manages to be enjoyable in spite of itself. In a parallel world, a longer, better version of “Jumper” exists; one that gives the characters time to develop so that the audience actually cares what happens to them (and, with any luck, it tells us that Griffin’s name is in fact Griffin). If we’re lucky, that version of the movie will jump to the DVD in our world.
Two-Disc Special Edition DVD Review:
The movie itself may have been incredibly hit-and-miss, but the two-disc release of “Jumper” delivers everything you could hope to see on DVD. The audio commentary with director Doug Liman, writer/producer Simon Kinberg, and producer Lucas Foster is a great listen, while “Doug Liman’s Jumper: Uncensored” is one of the best making-of featurettes in a long time. It’s a great behind-the-scenes look at not only Liman’s frenetic, on-the-go shooting style, but also his dedication to the job. (On several occasions, he actually jumps in the water with his actors to do what someone much lower on the pay scale could have done). Rounding out the set is an insightful SFX featurette (“Making an Actor Jump), a travel diary (“Jumping Around the World”), a short discussion on the differences between the novel and the film, an animated graphic novel ("Jumpstart"), and a handful of deleted scenes.