Man, I love it when actors play against type and take on acting jobs that are completely different from anything they've ever done before. Did I mention that Christensen spends a lot of time dressed in black and wearing an optional hood? What about Sam Jackson's ubiquitous energy weapon that launches out of a short staff he carries with him? How about the fact that if this does well, Fox is planning a trilogy? Originality abounds.
But, hey, barring the fact that Hayden's character is ready to give it all up for the love of a sweet, sweet dark eyed, brown haired young lovely, the similarities to the Star Wars prequels end there. The fact that his special abilities primarily focus around teleportation or (as is stated in one scene) "Beaming In" to anywhere he wants, might make the producers of Star Trek raise a brow. If they were going to raise a fuss, though, they should've done so when the novel Jumper by Steven Gould was published sixteen years ago.
We first meet Christensen's David Rice as he's relaxing atop the head of the Sphinx, telling us about how he learned years ago that he could "Teleport" whenever he wanted to. It started when he needed to escape drowning and continued when he decided to escape his drunken father (Michael Rooker), as his mother (Diane Lane) had done via different means years before. As he slowly hones his skills he does what many of us might do with such an ability... he becomes an international bank robber. Personally I would have sexier thoughts, but he takes a more roundabout approach.
The only thing that keeps him thinking of home sweet Ann Arbor is the young lady who stole his heart years before (Rachel Bilson's Millie Harris). When his crimes catch the attention of the powerful agent Roland Cox (Jackson in a wacky white fright coif) he gets his chance to reunite with sweet Millie courtesy of being on the lam.
Roland, we are shown, is of the belief that "only God" should be able to be all places at once and sets about with his allies and henchmen to make sure ol' Davy (and, we learn, others like him) isn't able to jump anywhere ever again. To this end they have both the weapons needed to inhibit the ability to Jump (otherwise, Davideo would just vanish when threatened) and the tools needed to follow the Jumpers through "Jump Scars".
David, however, is much more interested in keeping his lifestyle going and rekindling the puppy love he shared with sweet Millie. So, with a backpack full of Cash, he takes her on a Sex Filled romp through Rome (no nudity, though).
It isn't long before everything starts collapsing around David, as he learns that Roland is far from alone... and neither is David. Enter fellow jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell) who reveals that this is far from a new struggle. Jumpers like Griffin and David have been at war with Paladins like Roland for thousands of years. The final showdown is just around the bend. As Roland's Paladin army has no qualms with capturing or killing even the innocent family members of the Jumpers, the stakes are most assuredly high.
Jumper is, any way you slice it, a fun movie. It's bound to have its vehement detractors for a number of reasons. The first being that it's not a truly great movie, as fun as it can be. There are huge plot holes and devices of convenience all around. Further there are enough broken pieces left hanging to leave us with a bit of an incomplete feeling here. This is either a shining advertisement for an upcoming sequel or a directive to pick up the novel. The second reason boils down to the similarities to the last movie Sam Jackson and Hay-Hay Christensen starred in together. The haters are going to come out of the woodwork for this movie just as if Jar-Jar Binks himself had appeared in the preview.
Fans of the Novel (and its 2004 sequel Reflex) might find a lot to love here, but are more likely to cry foul when they see how far the script (by Simon Kinberg, Jim Uhls and, yes, yes, David S. Goyer) deviates from its source material. I can only imagine that when the differences were revealed, Gould and his fans probably had that same look on their face that the Asimov Estate had when Gregory Benford told them that his idea for a Prequel to Foundation included Skyscraper-tall holograms of Voltaire and Joan of Arc in battle while entire chapters were focused on the novel's protagonists possessing the bodies of promiscuous primates. I still can't get that look off my face!
Still, this is, at core, an action film. It's not an incredibly stupid piece of crap with tons of catch-lines thrown around, nor is it some genre-redefining blending of brilliance either. But it is fun, and Fun isn't so bad, now is it? Considering the lucrative films that director Doug Liman has previously put his name on, I'm betting his accountant would agree.
Truly great movies get better with repeated viewings and after deep thought puts all the puzzle pieces in place. Jumper is at its worst in its slow, thoughtful moments, but is at its best when it distracts the audience from its flaws with great special effects and superb action and occasional humor. After the wash of the senses, one looks back and doesn't see Jumper as a monumental, memorable Science-Fiction movie. But for a popcorn actioner with beautiful women, interesting themes and a pretty good story (with elements we've most assuredly seen before), Jumper is worth the ride. Three Stars out of Five for Jumper. It's got its supporters, it's got its detractors, it's middle of the road on quality, but on the higher end of fun. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a trip to Los Angeles to plan. I live in Orange County, less than an hour away from L.A., but after seeing this kid pop from Michigan to Rome to Giza to New York to London in seconds... that one hour seems like a long ass time. See you (eventually) in the next reel!
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