This Week in Movies: Jumper

Andrew Burford

Jumper makes for a very exciting concept of a movie. There’s just one minor flaw: it’s not actually a good movie. Based on Stephen Gould’s 2002 novel, the film follows the story of David Rice, a twenty-three-year-old bachelor who holds the power to teleport at any point in time to anywhere. After initially recognizing his power at age fifteen, the quiet and mysterious Rice began his strange new life by robbing banks for a living…without ever opening any doors. After all, what could possibly happen to him? As far as he knew, life had no limits.

Eight years later, Rice still holds the same opinion, as he spends his time traveling the sights, while bringing new meaning to the idea of traveling. He sunbathes on top of the Sphinx, yet still finds time to check out the view of Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower before dinner. All in a day’s work, right?

Nevertheless, as one character says in the film, “When I think things are too good to be true, it’s generally because they are.” Rice’s life soon enough becomes no exception. He discovers that an underground team known as the ‘Paladins’ is actively hunting down all known “Jumpers”, or those who hold the same power as David does. David thusly spends the majority of the film trying to live his gifted life while simultaneously avoiding the Paladins at all costs. To complicate matters, David has become reunited with a high school crush after eight long years, and hence must struggle to balance the hurdles of normal life with those of his unique one.

Similarly, the film itself follows that same logic of being too good to be true. After attracting an enthusiastic audience with a great trailer and effective marketing, I left the movie feeling let down. Had I simply been watching an eighty-eight minute long trailer, rather than an actual film? What was it that made this seemingly good-looking film just too good to be true?

For one, the concept of teleportation seemed to backfire on the expected movie-going experience typical for action films like Jumper. Put simply, what I mean to say is that I have come to expect to see eye-catching explosions and incredible stunts when I go to this sort of anti-intellectual popcorn fare. However, because teleportation itself is such a jarring experience to watch on screen, wherein the actor constantly disappears at just a moment’s notice, I never found myself actually enjoying or admiring the $85 million that went into making Jumper. I just ended up constantly trying to keep track of what part of the screen David Rice would jump to next, as if I were trying to follow the constantly-moving hockey puck of an NHL game without watching the players knock each other’s four remaining teeth out.

Jumper’s biggest problem though is its star: Hayden Christensen. To put it kindly, Christensen delivered a performance reminiscent of his days as Anakin Skywalker from the relatively critically-panned prequels to the Star Wars franchise (for which he received much of the blame for). Even at the climax of the film, with everything including his own life on the line, I swear I caught Christensen yawning. And can we blame that on the fact that his character is quiet? Certainly not. Even the most quiet and mysterious of characters, both in reality and in the movies, usually manage to show enough emotion in near-death experiences for an audience to remember them by.

So, although I enjoyed certain aspects of the film (that are few and far between and will not be mentioned), I still am therefore only applauding Jumper’s marketing team for tricking me into giving them my $4.75. As for the film itself, the only thing I can think to give it is a thumbs down.