JUMP AS FAR AWAY AS YOU
published February 15,
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