Hop, Skip – Jump(er)

As I’ve been reading Get Smart’s reviews this week it has become obvious that some reviewers all go to the same well of uncreativity. Every single one either started or ended with the show’s catchphrase to sum up it’s disappointment-“Missed it by that much.”

The same could be said about this film, “No, it’s not a documentary on knitwear,” “It will pull the wool over your eyes,” etc. So I promise, no lame jokes here, at least not deliberately.

This really should’ve been a better movie. Somewhat based on the first in a trilogy of books by Steven Gould, Jumper concerns youngster David (Hayden Christensen) as he learns he is a “jumper,” ie, someone who can teleport at will. He eventually learns he’s not the only one and his selfish world of robbing banks and travelling the world in freedom is shattered. Roland (Samuel L. Jackson) is the leader of a mysterious group called Paladins whose mission is simply to hunt and kill jumpers. They do quite a good job too, with all their fancy gadgets. David partners with a more experienced Jumper, Griffin (Jamie Bell), he meets high school sweetheart Millie (The OC’s Rachel Bilson) and lots of jumping and running follows. It looks good and has more exotic locales than all the Bond films combined, but there is no real depth here. Millie simply follows David and we are given no reason as to why. The pair are supposedly in love (or at least, sleeping together, which in Hollywood is apparently the same thing) The opening scene sets up their relationship as children when David first discovers his gift, but there is no sense that they were nothing more than classmates, not life long friends and the rest of the film does nothing to add to this. Griffin is simply an annoying character and with Jamie Bell’s thick accent you may be reaching for that Subtitles button on your remote. We learn Griffin has been jumping since he was five, but don’t wait for any wise mentor-naive student vibe here. Griffin is the same age and hates David almost as much as the Paladins. It’s a nice surprise, but one character whom we could sympathise with would’ve been a great idea. Diane Lane also has a cameo (which I won’t spoil) and the film ends with the potential for more, which there may be. The Jumper book series is a trilogy as this film is intended to be, but I have my doubts after seeing this one. It may go some way to explaining why the film is light on exposition though – the producers are saving those details for two more films. There is no satisfying explanation as to how the jumpers can do what they can do, or why Paladins hate them so much, and no glimpse in to the history of their apparently millenia old war. The making-of feature on the DVD explains that the writers have created such details, but just didn’t put them in the screenplay. I’d also recommend watching the deleted scenes which show the better direction this film could’ve gone in.

Jumper is high on geek cred – it re-unites Star Wars actors Christensen and Jackson, it’s written by Jim Uhls(Fight Club) Simon Kinberg (X-Men: The Last Stand) and David Goyer (Blade, Batman Begins) and directed by Doug Liman (The Bourne Identity) but the problem is it tries to focus so much on making jumping look cool that it relegates all the important stuff, such as back story and character to the blurry background, though if you want that stuff, there is alway the novels and the Oni Press comic series, entitled Jumpscars. It also mentions Marvel Team-Up, twice, when David attempts to convince Griffin that’s what they should do. However a few nerd moments isn’t enough to save this film. If you’re looking for great teleporting visuals with a story to boot, see Nightcrawler do his “Bamf”ing thing in X-Men 2.