Bounce on by
Current movie critic whipping boy Hayden Christensen jumps around a lot in the aptly titled Jumper, which is about a guy who jumps around a lot. And, as far as guys-who-jump-around-a-lot films go, this one isn’t all that great or all that bad. For a movie about a guy jumping around a lot, it’s pretty flat. While the character possesses the ability to teleport from place to place, the movie itself never really goes anywhere.
Some of the fault lies with Christensen, who sleepwalks through the role, which is pretty odd when you consider he’s supposed to be playing a guy who jumps around a lot. He plays David Rice, who conveniently discovers his ability to teleport after falling through the ice as a youngster. One moment he’s about to become fish food and then—zoom—he zips to a library, where he causes a commotion.
Before long, David moves to New York City and masters the art of world travel without buying tickets. If he had to buy tickets that would be OK because he’s also mastered the art of robbing banks without ever opening a door or vault. He keeps millions of dollars, motorcycles and more in his NYC apartment, where he has become so lazy he teleports across the kitchen to reach the refrigerator. He looks mighty fit for a guy who has eschewed walking and minimal tasks.
The setup for the film is mildly interesting, but then the movie gets a little dopey. David comes face to face with his arch nemesis, Mace Windu, I mean, Samuel L. Jackson as Roland, a guy who really hates jumpers because “Only God has the right to be everywhere!” or something like that. I half expected Roland to kick David’s ass because he had turned to the dark side of the Force, but that was another movie.
There’s also Millie (Rachel Bilson), the girl David was all funny for when growing up in Ann Arbor, Mich. Millie always dreamed of going to Rome as a child, so David takes her there via plane. He won’t use his powers to save them travel time and airfare, but he uses them like crazy when inside a post-operating hours Coliseum. It is here that David meets fellow jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell), who cleverly introduces himself while taking a piss. It’s one of director Doug Liman’s attempts at humor. The whole “Hey, good to meet you … oops I’m taking a piss!” routine. You know it well. It’s a corker.
While the main idea of Jumper is clever, the narrative and plot are a bit weak. The visual of David having a picnic atop the Sphinx is cool, as is a sequence where he and Griffin fight while jumping from location to location. But the novelty of a teleporting character wears thin over the running time. A whole subplot involving David’s long-lost mother (Diane Lane) is wasted film space, as is the business with Millie not understanding the whole jumping around thing. It doesn’t help that Christensen and Bilson have little in regards to sparks flying.
Bell lights up the film when he’s on screen, but that is only a precious few minutes. Otherwise, it’s a seemingly bored Christensen droning his lines, eyes looking as if it’s way past his nappy time. I’ve liked Christensen in the past, especially in Shattered Glass and the last Star Wars movie. I guess films about guys jumping around a lot fail to get his blood going.
The door is left wide open for a sequel. I’m hoping that David can discover a way to teleport through time, because jumping around a lot in the present tense has been played to death in the course of this mediocre film. If they get Christensen to star again, perhaps 10 cups of coffee, some smelling salts and a few spirited slaps across the face are in order. Anything to wake the bastard up and make him seem interested.