Stage and Cinema film and theatre reviews
 

 

JUMP AS FAR AWAY AS YOU CAN

 

picture - JumperMovie Review

by Kevin Bowen

published February 15, 2008

 

Jumper

rated PG-13

now playing nationwide
 
Jumper took the leap into theaters on Valentine’s Day. And that’s the only love it’s likely to get.

 

The would-be superhero series launch gives off all the signals of a lousy Valentine’s date – a high price ($100 million, reportedly), boring stories, and less action than you had hoped for.  There’s a bottle in its hand, a mumble in its mouth, and an eye looking for the nearest expansion bridge. We’ve got a jumper, indeed.

 

It’s not a bad idea. Young man (Hayden Christiansen) discovers he has the ability to teleport instantly to any place in the world.  Suddenly, he’s jumping straight from his room out onto the head of the Sphinx or into the Grand Canyon. He uses the power to travel, break into banks, and live the high life.

 

Of course, the laws of the comic book universe dictate that every super power is met by an equal and opposite price to pay. There’s a secret war going on between these “jumpers” and a secret group out to stop them. Under the tutelage of another jumper (Jamie Bell) he confronts a villain trying to cut short his worldwide tour (Samuel L. Jackson).

 

Jumper might follow some universal laws, but its pacing is bad enough to need a scientific theory for explanation. It's so loaded with backstory that things that should happen at 20 minutes instead happen at the 50 minute mark. Yet, still the movie wraps up in an hour and a half. That squeezebox effect partly stems from an underwritten script that took three writers to complete. That must have been some of the easiest money ever earned. The storyline has a laziness that only a union boss could love.

 

The film never finds a rhythm. This is partly due to the performance of Christiansen, whose speech has the laggard speed of John Wayne without the haggard twang. Meanwhile, director Doug Liman appears to have attended classes recently at the Ridley Scott School of Unnecessary Reaction Shots.  His redeeming oddball sense of humor goes missing, possibly a casualty of rumored “troubles” on the production.  

 

What dooms Jumper, though, is that it is a superhero story without superheroics. Superhero stories are partly myths of civic responsibility, tales of outcasts and loners who ultimately use their unique gifts to save the community. Part of the stories’ tension comes from the competing interests of individualism and society. That ain’t happening here. Our jumper has no real calling beyond his own whims. At one point, he watches people stranded in a flood on television. He picks up an umbrella. And jumps to a London bar to pick up a babe. 

 

The best news about Jumper: It won’t stick around long enough for us to miss it when it’s gone.

 

kevinbowen @ stageandcinema.com

 

 
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