a critiQal film review Jumper (2008)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: A genetic anomaly allows a young man (Christensen) to teleport himself anywhere. He discovers his gift has existed for centuries and finds himself in a war that has been raging for thousands of years between "Jumpers" like himself and "Paladins", who have sworn to kill them.

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A white-haired Samuel L. Jackson vs. a teleporting Darth Vader – all directed by Doug Liman ()? That sounds like a party that can’t be missed to us. Unfortunately, we never got around to seeing Jumper during it’s theatrical run in February, so couldn’t wait for the DVD.

Now that the DVD is out, would the film live up to our high expectations, or would we be glad we didn’t shell out the big bucks for it?

Hayden Christensen has actually gotten less expressive since his turn as Darth Vader in . No matter what he goes through in Jumper, it’s all done with an incredibly dour expression. Sure, he chokes out a few tears – but even that can’t really penetrate the mask he continues to wear.

As the lead character in Jumper, he does leave a bit to be desired. Still, he manages to play through his part well enough, and even backs off a little to let Jamie Bell and Samuel L. Jackson do most of the acting for him.

Jamie Bell plays another teleporter Christensen meets in the film – and he more than makes up for Christensen’s lack of expression. At first coming across like a whiny child, Bell soon changes into a rather maniacal version of Christensen (think Christensen with raging emotions and you won’t be far off). He takes on his role of beating up the bad guys with a glee that is almost contagious – and a bit scary.

Samuel L. Jackson, complete with a shock of white hair, plays the leader of the bad guys in Jumper – and for the first time ever, seems slightly miscast. While he normally can leap into any role, the bad guy persona no longer really fits him. After all, viewers have grown so accustomed to seeing him on screen, even his normal bad guy roles (see Pulp Fiction) draw cheers from the audience.

To put him in such an evil-minded role seems a bit off-kilter, and does a good job of pushing the viewer away from the film (something that will have to overcome this Christmas). Since Christensen’s robotic acting hasn’t drawn the viewer in very far, that really isn’t hard to do.

Rachel Bilson does a decent job in the role as Christensen’s love interest, but Christensen again makes their interactions seem forced and somewhat petty. It’s almost as if she isn’t important to him until she’s in trouble – then suddenly she is, sort of (The movie seems to back this up, as he seems desperate to get to her while she’s on a plane – then forgets to check to see if the plane is landing on-time, so shows up late to pick her up).

While the acting is largely uneven, the plot does a good job of helping to make up for it. An ancient war (those are always enticing) between “jumpers” (transportation – cool) and “Paladins” (wait…aren’t they ‘white knights’? Does that explain Jackson’s do?) rages on around the normal folk, and they don’t even know.

A very intriguing setup, and the first part of the film, which shows Christensen popping off to wherever he feels like (even across the couch to better access the remote), is highly entertaining. Once the action starts picking up, the viewer will easily get lost in it a bit, but then something always seems to be there to jar the viewer back out again.

The special effects are impressive. While Doug Liman mentions in one of the special features that he didn’t want to make a Special Effects movie, the transporting is a large part of the film, and part of the film does become more of a special effects movie than anything else.

With an intriguing concept and a easy lead-in for a sequel, Jumper seems like a sure-fire hit. Unfortunately, thanks in part to Christensen’s continuing impersonation of a block of wood, the film doesn’t come off as good as it could have.

Hopefully, Christensen will finally take acting lessons before the sequel hits theaters, and Jumper 2 will turn out to be the film Jumper could have been.

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