Ken's Review: Jumper - A Great Concept Destroyed by Weak Performances
by Ken Evans
February 15, 2008
Everyone I know has said the same thing about Jumper, "Either it's going to really suck, or it's going to be really awesome". When I first saw the trailer I'll admit I was intrigued by the thought of a teleporting superhero. That is until I saw who would be playing the lead character. Putting my dislike for Hayden Christensen aside, I thought maybe since it starts with a cool concept and since the special effects look decent, perhaps it might be a winner. Although the concept and effects turned out to be actually pretty great, they couldn't make up for everything else that brought the film down.
Jumper starts off by introducing us to David Rice (Hayden Christensen), a student in high school. He is a normal kid dealing with all the normal high school stuff, including a crush on his classmate Millie. David is unaware of his power until one day while walking on a frozen lake he falls in. He is only under the freezing water for a few seconds until he suddenly teleports and finds himself in the local library. Quickly realizing the potential of his newly found gift he runs away from home. Jumping to years later David has used his gift for selfish enjoyment and personal gain. He has also caught the eye of a group led by a man named Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), who will stop at nothing to kill anyone that can teleport. When Millie's (Rachel Bilson) life is threatened David must choose between saving his own skin or possibly sacrificing himself for her.
A few of the casting decisions just didn't work for me. The first poor choice was having Rachel Bilson as Millie. The only other thing that I have seen her in was The Last Kiss which she wasn't that bad in, but she really wasn't very good either. I felt like this was kind of the same thing, where she definitely wasn't bad, but was never that great. She seemed a bit boring and rigid like she didn't really know what she was doing.
If Bilson is mediocre then Hayden Christensen must just be plain bad. The film starts with a younger version of David played by Max Thieriot. As soon as Christiansen comes into the picture and starts interacting with others I wished Thieriot would come back and somehow play the older version as well. If this was more like Soldier where the lead character never really had to talk or have relationships with other characters, then Christiansen would be fine. If all he did was teleport and fight, then I wouldn't have had a problem with him, anything deeper then that and he falls apart. There is just something about him that is awkward when he interacts with Bilson and the other jumper, Griffin (Jamie Bell), who can also teleport. Hayden's body language feels out of place for each situation, which is very distracting. There is a lot of swaying and eyes darting everywhere, like he doesn't know what to do with himself. He is very wooden and extremely uninteresting.
The screenplay, which is based off of a novel by Steven Gould (check it out on Amazon.com), was written by David Goyer, Jim Uhls and Simon Kinberg. Now I don't know which guy had more influence or which ideas can be attributed to which writer, but there were some definite problems. The biggest one for me is when Hayden is attacked the first time by Samuel Jackson. That scene was actually pretty good, however after being attacked Christensen decides that instead of hiding or trying to figure out why he had been assaulted, he instead tries to find his old high school crush and go on a romantic vacation. That whole decision bothered me the entire film because it lacked any common sense on how a person would really react to being attacked and almost killed by a mysterious intruder.
There were a few ideas that were introduced but never developed into much, such as the war between the "Paladins" and "Jumpers". The "Paladins", which Sam Jackson's character is a part of, have been around since medieval times trying to kill the "Jumpers". That information is about all the audience ever learns, but was enough to intrigue me. It sounds like such a great foundation to build a cool sci-fi series on, reminiscent of Underworld or even The Matrix. Take that foundation and replace a few actors, fill in a few holes and you could have a great trilogy, especially if you throw in the teleport fighting that Jamie Bell uses on the "Paladin" troops. Those scenes were great and could really be developed in a few sequels.
As it stands now I didn't care much for Jumper and wouldn't recommend a sequel, as much as they left it open for one. The unique concept, great looking special effects, and teleport fighting just couldn't make up for the disappointing performances by Christensen and Bilson. If you actually enjoy watching Christensen then you will probably like Jumper, especially since he is the same in every film. This is a mediocre movie that will quickly be forgotten until you see it on the $9.99 rack, which I predict won't take long for it to get there. Skip Jumper this weekend and instead try and find a theater showing In Bruges which you'll find much more rewarding.