When Eminem turns down a role in your movie, you should probably realize something’s amiss. Unfortunately, director Doug Liman didn’t get the hint and finished “Jumper” anyway.
As dictated by the rules of the loser-becomes-powerful handbook (courtesy of Spidey & co.), young David Rice (Max Thieriot) starts out as the average sympathetic teenage dirtbag with a broken home and a crush on Millie — that cute, but otherwise uninteresting girl whose lifetime dream is (conveniently) to travel the world. Then one day, he (un)expectedly discovers that he can teleport instantly anywhere on the globe. Several years later, he has grown into Hayden Christensen, a filthy rich self-indulgent douchebag who uses his powers to rob banks and get free tours of the pyramids. So much for superhero clichés. Soon it occurs to him to take Millie (Rachel Bilson) on a free tour of Rome, where, instead of the Pope, David meets British jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell) and the Paladins, a bunch of religious freaks who hunt his kind armed with such powerful weapons as electrocuting guns and Samuel L. Jackson. What follows is an erratic, heinously edited cat-and-mouse game which, doubled with the moronic dialogue, will have viewers wanting to jump out of their seats in no time.
The movie’s trailer promised an explosively energetic, dizzying ride that would get the audience’s adrenaline pumping. No such luck. The film is dizzying, yes, but that’s mostly due to its pacing issues: It develops too fast, without building up the character conflicts or taking care to prepare the viewer for the climactic scene (which is pretty disappointing in itself). The editing is erratic, the special effects (which could have been a lot more spectacular, given the subject matter) get lost amid the general chaos, and the camera movements are often too jerky or disorienting. In the end, the movie comes off as feverishly hyper, bouncing all over the place without being able to contain itself.
The script is, to say the least, ridiculous. The characters’ reactions are often unrealistic and counter-intuitive, while the lines that go along with them provoke incredulous laughter. The dialogue sounds like the first draft some freshman failing Screenwriting 101 just turned in after spending a good half-hour on it. The motivation behind characters’ actions and attitudes often remains unclear or is simply missing, so that the plot remains shaky and undeveloped all the way through.The acting is horrifying, but that’s hardly a surprise, given that Liman entrusted the lead to the guy who ruined the new “Star Wars” episodes for millions of fans. Just as expected, Christensen appears to sleepwalk through half the movie, only to spend the other half failing to produce the intensity of emotion that would correspond to his character’s experiences. Bilson, on her part, delivers such a feeble and unconvincing attempt at acting that at times she ends up making Christensen’s performance appear Oscar-worthy. And let’s not forget Samuel L. Jackson who, yet again, has been cast as the film’s token tough guy, and not even his ivory hair can prevent the prevailing sense of déjà vu every time he barks an order.
True, considering the material they’ve been given, it is hardly a surprise that the actors appear less than enthusiastic to deliver their ridiculous lines. However, a bit more effort in that department could have added a spark of life to “Jumper,” instead of making this already lackluster action flick even more bland.
Amidst all the general suckage, there is one consolation prize: Jamie Bell. For one thing, his character is the only one endowed with personality, common sense and a dry, cynical sense of humor — a welcome respite from the movie’s consistent mediocrity. Unlike the rest of the cast, Bell is spirited and full of energy, so that whatever small charge the movie possesses is largely due to him.
The other positive thing about the movie is the free bonus tour of the Colosseum, which is so undeniably breathtaking that even “Jumper” couldn’t do anything to mess it up.
Still, you’re better off watching the Travel Channel.