Jumper: One small step for man



A great marketing tagline for “Jumper” could have been: Jumper: It’s “Highlander” for the myspace generation! Both feature leaps through space (and logic), centuries-old rivalries, and an acting vacuum for a lead (Christopher Lambert in ‘Highlander,’ Hayden Christensen in ‘Jumper’), and both are a laughable assault on the intellect (but ‘Jumper” lacks that groovin’ Queen soundtrack).

Jumper may also be notable for no other reason than Samuel L. Jackson managed to wear a more bizarre wig than his Gumby model he sported for “Unbreakable” a few years back.

Frosted an unnatural shade of white, he resembles a pissed-off piece of Sno-Caps candy.

Perhaps it was the chance to jet to exotic locales on the director’s dime that enticed the actor to sign off on this mess, or maybe he was looking for a role that would allow him to slap former co-star Christensen around a bit in retribution for wrecking the last two “Star Wars” movies.

Christensen plays David Rice (finally, a character with a last name to match his on-screen charisma!), a hedonistic, self-centered jerk who starts the on-screen narration by stating, “Once I was a normal person – a chump just like you.”

Nothing like cuddling up to your audience right off the bat, David.

David is a Jumper, a race long persecuted for their abilities by Christian zealots known as the Paladins, who feel only God should have the power to be everywhere at once (ironically, the Paladins still manage to stay in hot pursuit of the Jumpers, presumably without the use of teleportation). Their penalty for “jumping?” Death by stabbing.

David makes his living “jumping” into banks, siphoning the cash and globe-trotting to catch some killer waves, bed exotic babes and rest atop the Sphinx, seemingly because it just looks cool on the movie poster.

He transports back to his hometown and hooks up with a high school crush (Rachel Bilson, a human Bratz doll), and tries to impress her by taking her around the globe. Her presence slows down his time-space hopscotch, leading him and her prone to a Paladine assault.

Looking for more plot? Sorry, check the theater next door.

There’s no plans for global dominance, no natural catastrophe faced. It’s essentially just a first date that goes south on a cosmic level.

The fact that Christensen brings to the proceedings all the enthusiasm of a disturbed nap is really no surprise. What is surprising is that the entire endeavor is directed by a should-have-known-better Doug Liman (“Swingers,” “Go,” “The Bourne Identity,” “Mr. and Mrs Smith”).

While adapting young-adult novels from author Steven Gould, Liman figures we do not care about any of particulars, like: what the hell are Jumpers? Paladines? What is the source behind their abilities, weaponry and their feud? What exactly is the past relationship between David and his absentee mommy (played by Diane Lane)? Why the hell should we care about the current relationship with his girlfriend? What is the rationale behind a fellow jumper’s plot to take down the Paladines? Of all the scary government agencies Jackson’s character could say he’s employed by, why does he choose the IRS?

Sadly, the list could continue for the rest of this column.

On the flip side, the lack of details means there are that many more minutes that we do not have to suffer through Christensen’s constipated narration. Instead we get scene after scene of watching the “jumping” trick, which is only marginally impressive – and that margin diminishes with each additional leap.

So does our tolerance and patience.

~ by usesoapfilm on February 19, 2008.

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