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Overall Rating
2.49

Awesome: 1.49%
Worth A Look: 23.88%
Average: 22.39%
Pretty Bad26.87%
Total Crap: 25.37%

8 reviews, 19 user ratings


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Jumper
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by Peter Sobczynski

"But I Hardly Know Her!"
1 stars

There has been some complaining in certain quarters lately about how some coming attractions previews are put together in a way that doesn’t quite accurately represent the films that they are promoting–there were the “Sweeney Todd” trailers that gave virtually no indication that the film was actually a musical and the “Meet the Spartans” ads that flat-out lied by telling prospective viewers that it was a comedy. In that sense, I guess that we should give it up to the people who put together the previews for “Jumper” for creating a trailer that offers a completely accurate representation of the film as a whole. “But wait,” as any of you who have seen said trailer over the last few months, “isn’t that the preview that is nothing more than an incoherent jumble of noisy action-filled money shots briefly interspersed with clips of Rachel Bilson’s cleavage and Samuel L. Jackson sporting one of the most unspeakable-looking hairdos in recent screen history?” Well, yes it is and if you liked that trailer, you will probably like the film since it plays exactly like a trailer that has been stretched out to 88 minutes–all money shots with no story or engaging characters to tie them together–and the result is a work so god-awful and annoying that it makes such films as “Hitman” and “Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem,” to name two other recent releases from our friends at Fox, look like near-Mametian examples of narrative cohesion by comparison.

As the film opens, we are introduced to David Rice, a whiny, petulant and mush-mouthed high-schooler with an emotionally absent father (Michael Rooker), a literally absent mother who took off when he was five, an unrequited crush on classmate Millie and a bully who traumatizes him by. . .get this. . .calling him “Rice Bowl.” One day, while treading across dangerously thin ice in order to retrieve a sno-globe that he bought for Millie (an item that eventually becomes the most significant such tchotcke to grace movie screens since the one that Orson Welles dropped at the start of “Citizen Kane,” though I assure you that comparisons between the two films begin and end there), David plunges into the water below but inexplicably winds up soaking wet on the floor of the local library. Amazingly, he doesn’t really seem to take much notice of this but when it happens a second time later that night, he peels himself off of the library floor and asks aloud, “Did I just teleport?,” a line that is so spot-on awful that it almost makes me want to recommend the film to all the “Juno”-haters out there–after hearing dialogue like this, which is bad even by the terms of lugubrious fantasy nonsense–I predict that even the most vociferous members of the anti-homeskillet brigade will be knocking each other over in their efforts to offer apologies to Diablo Cody. Using this new-found power, David takes off and when we catch up with him a few years later (having morphed into Hayden Christensen), he is living a heedless life that consists of joyriding around the world and leaping into the occasional bank vault to fund his lifestyle.

All is good until he is visited one day by Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), an unfortunately-coiffed stranger who informs David that he knows exactly who he is, what he can do and that there are others like him known as “jumpers.” Alas, Roland is a Paladin, a group that has existed for thousands of years for the sole purpose of killing all jumpers as they believe that the power to be in all places at all times should be reserved solely for God and is an abomination in the hands of a mere mortal. (Apparently they are more flexible on the whole thing about God being the only one to have the right to take a life.) Roland is the toughest and most resourceful Paladin of all, so it is only natural that it takes David approximately sixteen seconds to elude his grasp and disappear. And since he know has a thousand-year-old group of warriors who will stop at nothing to see him dead, not to mention anyone close to him, David decides that this is the perfect time to go back home to Ann Arbor to briefly spook his father and look up Millie (Rachel Bilson), whom he whisks away for a Roman holiday. Amazingly, the Paladins follow them and David, along with fellow jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell), has to figure out a way to save himself and protect Millie from their wrath in a battle that literally goes around the world before climaxing, inevitably, in that damn library.

If you have read this far–and not out of either a sense of social obligation or curiosity as to whether Rachel Bilson shows more flesh here than she did in her recent “GQ” cover shoot–you no doubt have plenty of questions inspired by what I have just described. How does one become a jumper in the first place–is it genetic or is it a trick that is acquired by hard work, perseverance or some kind of magical spell? Are there any ill effects as a result of jumping–does it accelerate the aging process or the time-space continuum? If you are carrying something on your person when you jump, what prevents it from genetically fusing with your DNA in classic Brundlefly fashion? What is the deal with the Paladins? Do they have any supernatural powers to speak of or is their vendetta based solely out of jealousy that Jumpers get to cut their commute time down to practically nothing? Why do they call themselves “Paladins,” a name that is sure to inspire a few audience members to spontaneously begin humming the theme song to “Have Gun, Will Travel”? (Okay, I know just enough about the Middle Ages to understand where the name may have come from but there is no way that I would allow a little common knowledge to get in the way of a perfectly good “Have Gun, Will Travel” reference.) What about the logistics of Jumper sex? If you are a jumper and find yourself daydreaming in the middle of coitus about the new “Vanity Fair” cover or that rumored Scarlett Johansson-Penelope Cruz scene from the upcoming Woody Allen movie, will you suddenly find yourself zapped into the kind of scene that might have single-handedly saved this entire film? Will your partner come along for the ride? Will it be good for her too? These are all reasonably good questions, I think, but you will not find the answers to any of them contained within “Jumper.” In fact, you won’t find much in the way of an explanation about anything. This is a film in which all of the characters seem curiously removed from the fantastical events that are going on around them. Then again, I guess that you can’t really complain about people reacting in a bizarrely blase manner to the ability to leap throughout the world in an instant in a film where a character suddenly turns up after being presumed dead for eight years and no one seems to find his reappearance to be at all unusual. (Perhaps these questions were answered in the 1992 Steven Gould novel, one of three in a series, that the film was based on–from only a cursory description of said book, it would appear that this film bears little resemblance to its source material.)

Granted, in a film like this, it is often a better idea to keep the specifics to a minimum in order to keep the story humming along without getting bogged down in the vast number of contradictions that are sure to arise whenever someone tries to make the implausible plausible. In the case of “Jumper,” however, the screenwriters have kept the story from bogging down by tossing it out altogether. This is one of those stories in which a lot of action-packed stuff happens but since none of it makes a lick of sense or has any intrinsic dramatic value, it is impossible to work up any sense of involvement towards what is going on. This is a surprise because the film was directed by Doug Liman, a filmmaker whose previous efforts (including “Go” and “The Bourne Identity”) has shown him to have a certain flair for putting together complicated narratives and kinetic action scenes into a final product that plays absolutely coherently as you watch it (though many questions may come to mind the minute you hit the parking lot afterwards). Here, he just lurches from action set-piece to action set-piece without any sense of flow and after a while, the result just become noisy and tiresome. Even the theoretically promising gimmick of transatlantic fistfights falls apart in the execution because of Liman’s refusal to have any fun with the concept. Watching our heroes rassling in locales ranging from the deserts of Egypt to Tokyo, I couldn’t help but think of that classic moment in the blaxsploitation epic “Hell Up in Harlem” where a car chase starts in New York and, after a transcontinental flight for both the pursuer and the pursued, ends in Los Angeles. Believe me, we could sit here and reminisce about “Hell Up in Harlem” all day and I can guarantee that it would be a better expenditure of your time and energy than watching “Jumper.”

Liman also directed “Mr & Mrs Smith,” another fairly incoherent action movie that at least managed to coast for a while on the sheer star power and on-screen chemistry between co-stars Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Unfortunately, that kind of lightning clearly came nowhere near striking distance of “Jumper.” Over the last few years, Hayden Christensen has received an enormous amount of fanboy scorn for his wooden performances in the last two “Star Wars” films. In the past, I have tended to believe that he was getting the raw end of the deal in this regard–I thought he was actually quite good as infamous liarpants Stephen Glass in “Shattered Glass” and besides, not even supremely talented actors like Liam Neeson, Ewan McGregor or Natalie Portman were able to convincingly sell George Lucas’ laughable dialogue. However, after seeing him here, I may finally have to reconsider that position as his mumbly, whiny turn is perhaps the most laughable and least interesting work by an actor that I have seen since. . .well, since Christensen’s inept take on Bob Dylan in last year’s “Factory Girl.” As for Rachel Bilson, she remains cute as a button but the character that she is playing here is a dullard that never allows her to display the quick with and effortless charm that she used to deploy every week on “The O.C.” And since they fail to convince us that they are actual people by themselves, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to find out that they are equally unconvincing as a couple–they strike zero sparks together and because of that, the emotional stakes of the final battle are completely non-existent. (To be fair, it should be noted that neither Christensen nor Bilson were originally cast for this film in the first place–the former replaced Tom Sturridge about two weeks before filming began and Bilson stepped in for Teresa Palmer a month into shooting.) Among the other key players, Samuel L. Jackson simply coasts through his role with a look on his face that suggests his hopes that if he yells his lines loudly enough , it might keep viewers from noticing that he has inexplicably borrowed Wesley Snipes’ do from “Demolition Man” for his own purposes. As for Diane Lane, whose role shall not be revealed (though you will probably guess it soon enough), she appears so briefly in the final product (maybe three minutes of screen time tops) that you get the sense that she appeared on the set to shoot that footage, realized that the entire project was shaping up to be a disaster and teleported her way into another movie. (Pity for her that the movie in question turned out to be “Untraceable,” a lateral move at best.)

“Jumper” is the kind of movie that is such a mess on every artistic level that you sit there scratching your head while wondering what the hell happened. My guess is that everyone involved realized early on that the film just wasn’t working out and decided that if they threw enough noise and special effects at viewers, it might convince people that they were seeing a real movie and not just an unusually elaborate FX demo reel. On the bright side, a film like “Jumper” should prove once and for all whether or not teleportation actually exists–if it does, those with the ability who find themselves watching this film will quickly find themselves jumping into another theater at the multiplex and I can only hope that they are merciful enough to take the rest of us along for the ride.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=16844&reviewer=389
originally posted: 02/14/08 16:00:00
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User Comments

3/13/17 morris campbell thin plot he justs jumps from place 2 place 2 stars
9/15/11 Mepp Like a couple of the reviewers I thought this was good fun, filled in the blanks myself 4 stars
1/08/09 Peter North no boner salute. great concept, but terrible acting & horrible story line 1 stars
12/29/08 Bean Very enjoyable. I don't get why there's so much hate on this. 4 stars
12/06/08 Jared Robb Entertaining, if nothing else. Just fall away from reality for a while and enjoy! 3 stars
10/17/08 daveyt jamie bell, sort that accent out! I thought chris waddle's was bad! 2 stars
8/19/08 Shaun Wallner This movie was Awesome!! Loved It. 5 stars
7/09/08 Totir Alexandru I expected more from this movie. It didn't quite matched the attention before the release 3 stars
6/30/08 mike really stupid movie. it could have been so much better. 1 stars
6/29/08 E. Leo Green Unbearable! 1 stars
6/15/08 g. junker 2 stars
6/05/08 Jayson Pretentious crap. 2 stars
3/07/08 David Graham why all the negatives? 4 stars
3/05/08 Renee Griffin I thought this movie was really good, jumping as much as they did I did almost get dizzy, 4 stars
3/03/08 Nicholas Plowman Average, boring, over done, cliched, but great to see with friends! 2 stars
2/21/08 ralf fun popcorn movie, but tons of missed chances to make a great one 3 stars
2/20/08 M Had so much potential! 1 stars
2/18/08 blyskalp Not to good 2 stars
2/15/08 Noexit worst review ever 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  14-Feb-2008 (PG-13)
  DVD: 10-Jun-2008

UK
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