‘Jumper’ movie review: Doug Liman’s postcard from the edge of sanity

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An unmitigated disaster, Doug Liman’s Jumper takes a potentially intriguing premise and goes absolutely nowhere with it; what we’re left with is essentially an 80-minute trailer, the cinematic equivalent of one of the postcards from an exotic locale that features heavily in the film. 

During a fifteen minute prologue – which turns out to be the best thing about the film – a young David Rice (Max Theriot) nearly dies when he falls through an ice-covered lake; he’s able to escape, however, when he discovers he can somehow teleport to another location. 

Years later, David (now played by Hayden Christensen) is directly teleporting into bank vaults and living the good life in New York and London apartments; the material is ripe for superhero satire – David is using his powers for personal gain instead fighting evil, and hey, wouldn’t we all – but the script plays everything disarmingly straight. 

There is, of course, the girl that he can’t reveal his true nature to (Rachel Blison), another ‘jumper’ that shows David the ropes (Jamie Bell), and a villain (Samuel L. Jackson) who tracks and kills ‘jumpers’ for reasons that are less than fully explained.

Usually in these movies, there’s some kind of plot – a villainous plan to, I dunno, take over the world – and maybe a theme – the hero learns he must use his powers for the good of mankind – but not here. Jumper is all characters; and not one of them do we care about. 

Christensen is capable of delivering a fine performance (see: Shattered Glass) but he’s been fatally miscast in iconic roles (Anakin Skywalker and Bob Dylan, to name a pair) and suffers the same fate here; simply put, he’s terrible in a role that offers him no room to breathe. 

Not that anyone else in the cast fares better; Jackson, in particular, has never been so bland, despite some nifty bleached-white hair. 

Effects are fine, and a wide range of locations keeps things (barely) interesting. 

Liman, once seen as a talented, up-and-coming indie director after Swingers and Go, has been getting progressively worse with each of his big-budget Hollywood outings. Jumper is his nadir.

Jumper

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Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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