Dir: Doug Liman. US. 2008. 88mins.
A cool, high concept science-fiction premise is executed with breezy, facile insouciance in Jumper. Director Doug Liman's first feature project since Mr And Mrs Smith (2005), is a globe-trotting, action packed thriller where the spectacle and special-effects easily overwhelm the broad brushstrokes storytelling.
Comparisons with The Matrix have been exaggerated and the box-office is unlikely to be in the same league but this should readily connect with a young, undemanding mainstream audience around the globe. It also leaves enough loose ends and unresolved personal issues to inspire a lucrative sequel or, more likely, a television series.
Hayden Christensen has yet to prove himself a bankable force beyond the Star Wars series. His career choices reflect someone in search of respect rather than easy stardom. His handsome good looks and solid performance in Jumper should allow him to reconnect with that science-fiction fan base and reignite his claims to leading man consideration.
Based on a 1990s novel by Steven Gould, Jumper tells of a young man who discovers he has the ability to transport himself anywhere on the planet by the power of thought. Soon, David Rice (Christensen) is leading the carefree existence of a globe-trotting hedonist. He is almost the classic playboy millionaire alter ego of a tortured superhero but just like Spiderman's Peter Parker he is made to realise that with great power comes great responsibility.
Jumper is all about galloping headlong towards the next big adrenaline rush as Rice discovers he is not the only jumper on the planet and that his kind are a hunted species at the mercy of the Paladins and merciless Van Helsing-style nemesis Raymond (Samuel L.Jackson).
The pure thrill of the chase is tempered by emotional issues for Rice that include the fate of his mysterious mother Mary (Diane Lane) and his love for dream girl Millie (Rachel Bilson). Help arrives in the shape of sarcastic fellow jumper and truculent sidekick Griffin (Jamie Bell).
Moving along at a hectic, breathless pace, Jumper is almost in too much of a hurry at times and logic and cohesion suffer as a consequence. Samuel L Jackson seems particularly shortchanged by his underdeveloped role and is left to snap out some pedestrian lines with routine authority.
The viewer is asked to make quite a number of leaps of faith in the storytelling including accepting the mild response to Rice's return after an eight year absence and the very trusting nature of the girl he left behind who joins his adventurous new life after little more than some meaningful stares and mild banter.
On a technical level, Jumper is a marvel of fast cuts, awesome effects and burnished picture postcard locations. It is mindless fun but that slickness and a very brief running time merely contribute to the feeling that this could have been longer and more substantial. The hasty, happy ending is unsatisfactory and leaves the feeling that something is either lacking or has been jettisoned in the eagerness for a specific rating, a younger market or a potential franchise.
20th Century Fox
Kim H Winther
based on the novel by Steven Gould
Director of photography
Samuel L Jackson