Plot: David Rice (Hayden Christensen) is a jumper. He can teleport at will, and has used his power to rob banks and build a comfortable lifestyle for himself. His world comes crashing down after an encounter with Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), part of the Paladin organization- a secret society that tracks down and eliminates jumpers, who they view as a threat to society. When his girlfriend, Millie (Rachel Bilson), runs afoul of the Paladins, David is forced to team up with another jumper, the reckless Griffin (Jamie Bell)- in order to take down Roland and his organization once and for all.
Review: I liked JUMPER more than I thought I would. The buzz on this film has not been great- and for the most part the trailers left me pretty cold. I expected the film to be an all out disaster- but I'm happy to say that Jumper is actually a pretty entertaining sci-fi action flick.
Now, it's no secret that I'm not a big Hayden Christensen fan. For the most part, I think he's a hopelessly mediocre actor. I loathed him in the STAR WARS prequels, and his performance as a Bob Dylan-esque character in FACTORY GIRL was an abomination. His follow up- AWAKE, didn't exactly win me over, as I listed the film as one of the worst films of 2007 in my year end list. Surprisingly, I actually thought Christensen was pretty good as the lead in JUMPER. He’s a good physical actor, and he handles the action scenes well. He also has good romantic chemistry with Rachel Bilson, who does a good job in her first role since the end of The O.C. The only problem with Christensen is that he occasionally comes off a tad bland, especially in his scenes with Jamie Bell- who steals every scene he's in. It probably doesn't help that Bell has the cooler role. His Griffin is a cool anti-hero and I could have easily imagined JUMPER with Bell as Griffin in the lead role, and Christensen and his somewhat wimpier character regulated to the sidelines.
Samuel L. Jackson is also pretty good in a rare villainous turn, although he's sporting a silly looking snow white toupee that looks almost (but not quite) as ridiculous as the bushy white eyebrows Morgan Freeman had to wear in DREAMCATCHER. Given that Jackson's pushing sixty (he's 59) he's pretty damn spry in the action scenes (although that could have just been really good CGI).
As usual for a film like this, the special FX are excellent- although I wouldn't have minded another cool action scene or two to show them off. There's also a lot of high profile talent behind the scenes, which is a bit surprising for a fairly standard genre film like this. While the name Simon Kinberg in the screenplay credits doesn't exactly inspire confidence (after all- this is the "writer" behind X3 & XXX2), the film was co-authored by Jim Uhls (who did an awesome job adapting FIGHT CLUB for David Fincher) & David S. Goyer (BATMAN BEGINS!!!). Director Doug Liman is also a pretty nig name for a film like this. He's coming off two huge back to back blockbusters (THE BOURNE IDENTITY & MR. & MRS. SMITH), so I'm surprised he's directed a relatively minor effort like JUMPER.
This brings me to my main problem, with JUMPER- it doesn’t really feel like a complete film.
JUMPER has a bit of a troubled production history. It's no secret that the two leading roles (Christensen & Bilson's) were re-cast well after principle photography began. It also seems to me, judging by the scant 88 minute running time (unusual for a big budget studio action film) that the film might have run into some trouble in the editing room. Characters, some of them played by fairly big name actors, pop up, and disappear at random. Diane Lane, despite some fairly prominent billing, has about 90 seconds of screen time. Rising starlet Kristen Stewart also pops up at one point, but she only has one line. I imagine that there's a lot more footage of these two actresses lying on the cutting room floor. I had a similar feeling while watching Liman's last film, MR. & MRS. SMITH- which had one of the most abrupt endings in recent memory. The ending of this film is similarly abrupt. Much is left unresolved, and it definitely feels like the film could have gone on for another half hour or so. Of course, it’s possible that Liman & co. were simply leaving the door open for a sequel- but we’ll see if that ever comes to pass.
Production problems aside, JUMPER is actually a pretty entertaining sci-fi action flick- although it's far from the epic action extravaganza it's being marketed as. There are only two really big action scenes- and one of them is over almost as soon as it begins. Still, one of the benefits of the short running time is that the film really zips along, and is never boring. The Valentine’s Day opening date is a bit of a head-scratcher, as the film doesn’t really cry out date movie to me. However- if you’re dateless this weekend (or your significant other is in to action flicks) I can give this film an easy recommendation.
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