Jumper (2008)

2009 #76
Doug Liman | 88 mins | Blu-ray | 12 / PG-13

JumperIn honour of Jumper’s central conceit — that certain people can instantaneously transport themselves to any other point on the planet — I will conduct this review by jumping about through paragraphs I wrote without bothering to link them properly. (Also done in honour of my laziness.)

Jamie Bell’s character, Griffin, is much more interesting than Hayden Christensen’s lead, but he’s also amoral — from a storytelling point of view (at least, a mainstream one) he needs a controlling influence, which is why he’s reduced to supporting and he’s-a-bad-boy-honest Christensen is the film’s focus point.

Acting wise, everyone’s just fine. Christensen is perhaps not the most convincing rebellious hero ever, but that’s as much the script’s fault as his and he’s a heck of a lot better than in either Star Wars prequel. Jackson could be a decent villain in his sleep, though Roland could perhaps do with a little more menace to live up to his reputation, while Rachel Bilson is a likable (read: pretty) enough love interest. But it’s Jamie Bell who — once again — really stands out. Why he isn’t heading up his own franchise yet is a mystery. (Oh, wait.)

The beginning is at times a little dull. Considering the film barely crosses the 80 minute mark before the credits roll, early on it feels like there could be a little more excitement and drive. The second half almost makes up for it. Budget is plastered across the screen in incredible action sequences that show off the promise of the concept to good effect. Griffin jumping a double decker bus at Roland is a particular highlight. The jumping car chase, on the other hand, is visually neat and a good idea, but also entirely pointless — for one thing, it’s not actually a chase (no one’s pursuing them), and they do it for no reason other than the sheer hell of it. It’s a shame, because it would’ve been even better given a proper place in the story.

The rules of jumping and the world they exist in seem incompletely thought-out; or, at best, inadequately explained. They go on about having ‘jump points’ or something, but then seem to be able to jump about at will, so what are these points? What’s their significance? Their use? How are they established?

Liman also blows a potential twist — that David isn’t the only one who has these abilities — too early in an attempt to flesh out Jackson’s villain. It’s a good scene in its own right and does serve a purpose, but story-wise it would play better after Bell shows himself to David. As it is, his ability to mysteriously follow David around is not so mysterious, his reveal more “and?” than “oh!”

Bourne-esque final scene… except more Supremacy than Identity, so while Liman is copying, it’s unfortunately not from himself.

Jumper is promising rather than accomplished. In the same way many view X-Men as necessary character introduction and setup for X2, so Jumper appears intended as a primer for the sequels Liman and co have (had?) planned. It may reduce you to thumb-twiddling at times, but there’s enough on offer to make a follow-up desirable.

3 out of 5

(Originally posted on 8th February 2010.)

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