Review: Jumper

jumper_cov.jpgYear: 2008
Director: Doug Liman
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Samuel Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Jamie Bell
Kaboom Review Action Movie Rating: 53

Plot
A young man discovers he has the power to teleport.

Quick Review
The action, pace, and premise of Jumper are intriguing, but the weaknesses with unsatisfactory story development and equally shallow characters hold this film down. Disappointing to see this film not reach its potential.

Full Review
My greatest concern as I sat down to watch Jumper was that they would muck up the intriguing premise. When you give an individual the power to teleport, you run the risk of your movie falling apart in a hash of illogical plot holes. Well, I’m happy to report that the film does an admirable job of sticking to its premise. Unfortunately, other problems with Jumper keep this film entrenched in mediocrity.

In a lot of ways, Jumper feels like a half of a movie. The story starts nicely enough, as we see the fifteen-year-old jumper_2.jpgDavid Rice (Hayden Christensen) learn of his teleportation (jumping) powers. After a somewhat plodding development into adulthood, we rejoin the 23-year-old bachelor living an egotistical life of world travel, parties, and self-gratification. And then everything changes in an instant when the Paladins—hunters of Jumpers—locate David in his urban penthouse. The rest of the movie is basically David and his girlfriend (Rachel Bilson) trying to escape the relentless Paladins, led by Roland (Samuel Jackson).

On the surface of things, this might not sound like such a bad movie, and it’s not. The movie had enough thrills to hold my interest. The action, although it gets a bit repetitive, is engaging and decently edited. There are some frantic jump fights amidst some spectacular cinematography. The film’s pace, with the exception of a few plodding spots, keeps moving things along briskly enough. Rachel Bilson helps with some nice eye candy from the female side, and Christensen (a Theo Epstein clone?) is pleasant on the eyes from the male side. The script is unmemorable, but suffices.
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But one of the major problems with Jumper is that we simply don’t get enough answers. Why are the Paladins hunting the Jumpers? How do the Jumpers get their powers? Why is David’s mother who she is? I love mysteries in a movie, but you’ve got to give me some bones along the way. Jumper gives us lots of questions but few answers. The movie simply doesn’t build on its premise enough to sustain interest over its 88-minute length. The ending, in particular, leaves everything hanging and concludes nothing. In many ways, this film plays like an excellent pilot for a television series.

They might have gotten away with this secrecy and lack of information if they had created characters that were easy to care about, but David Rice is one amazingly shallow protagonist. In essence, the guy is a thief living a hedonistic rachel_bilson.jpglife of luxury. In one defining scene David watches a news report of drowning flood victims. The reporter mentions that the people are certainly doomed because no one can get to them. David’s heroic response? He jumps to a London bar, has a one-night stand, and then jumps to go surfing. David’s shallowness has to be intentionally portrayed, but because David stays essentially the same throughout the film, there is little to like about the guy. The rest of the cast is essentially in the same vain. Millie, David’s girlfriend, shows little to endear her to audiences. Griffin, another jumper that meets David, is equally self-contained. In many ways, you get the sense that they’re saving all development for a sequel.

Jumper is quite mediocre in other ways as well. Christensen and Bilson never find any electricity in their love interest. Samuel Jackson acts convincingly, but his role is one-dimensional. On a bright note, Jamie Bell infuses his character with a frazzled, hunted vibe that makes his character the most intriguing in the film.

In the end, however, while the action, pace, and premise of this film are intriguing, the weaknesses with shallow story development and equally shallow characters hold this film down. It’s a shame, really, as this film has ample unrealized potential.

Score
Pace: 68
Plot: 48
Action: 63
Consistent Premise: 88
Script/Quotes: 58
Characters: 38
Acting: 50
Villain: 61
Body Count: 15
Time to First Dead Body: Unknown
Babes: 63
Hunks: 72
Explosions: 40
Special Effects: 77
Stunts: 60
Ending: 33

Overall: 53

[tags]Jumper, Doug Liman, Hayden Christensen, Samuel Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Jamie Bell, action movie review, film[/tags]

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