OK, this isn't really a study in imaginary physics, but my long-awaited return to the realm of online movie reviews. Why do I do it? Because all the other critics out there suck, that's why! Now lissen' up, I'mabouta lay some good quality reviewin' on yer eyes!
Jumper treats us to a fantasy that many of us have dwelt on at one time or another: teleportation. If you haven't dwelt upon it, then try dwelling now. Go ahead. I'll wait. I'm really patient that way. Think about it, the ability to go anywhere at any time. Hey, if you're in a knock-down, drag out fight with an old school rival, why not teleport him/her into a bank vault after hours? Not good enough, you say? You're in a fight to the death with a psychopathic zealot? A quick jaunt to the busy streets of London ought to do just the thing. See that double-decker bus heading your way? Why not take that along for the jump and see how your attacker deals with it? And yes, all of that is just as awesome as it sounds.
OK, OK, that's enough of the violent stuff. How about starting off your day with a sunrise in the Bahamas, breakfast in Paris, hot chocolate/coffee atop Mt. Everest, lunch in Budapest, dinner in Rome, and sunset in Iceland? Yeah, I know, the time frames are all screwed up, but you get the picture. Teleportation is a cool idea, one which had some great moments in X-Men United, but not nearly enough.
Which brings us back to Jumper. I was a bit wary of a movie featuring Hayden "I-killed-them-all-and-I-can't-stop-whining-about-it" Christensen of Episodes II and III fame. Thankfully, he did much better here as David. While his delivery could use more spirit, he was watchable. What do I need to say about Rachel Bilson, Millie besides hubba hubba hubba? (sorry mom) Unfortunately, she was not given the opportunity to show much strength as a victim caught in the crossfire of a secret war. Speaking of the war, leading the other side from the jumpers, the paladins, is our good friend Samuel Mutha F***in' Jackson as Roland (what kind of pansy name is Roland? Ask Samuel Mutha F***in' Jackson and you probably won't think that anymore.) When is it not a pleasure to watch him work? Even when he's on the other side, he's fun to watch. Jamie Bell, who was new to me (but not to fans of Peter Jackson's King Kong,) played a good foil to Christensen as fellow jumper, Griffin. Diane Lane rounds out the notable cast as David's mother, about which I will spill no beans.
Doug Liman, the director of a few of my other favorites including, Swingers, Bourne Identity, and Mr. and Mrs. Smith, takes us on a wild ride through David's discovery of his power, his later discovery by the paladins, his mix-up with the hapless Millie, his recruitment of Griffin and final showdown with Roland. All while globe-hopping more than James Bond in his last three movies combined. It is an exciting ride with some good breaks to keep the pace just right. The plot made sense, the dialog was good, the acting was fair, the cinematography was excellent.
What was missing was a little more exposition. Why are the paladins so set on eliminating jumpers? Is it a divine mission or did someone wake up centuries ago and say, "I feel like committing genocide today!" While Roland gives us a little bit of the divine zealot, "Only God should be able to be in all places at once!" We don't get much by way of history beyond tantalizing glimpses of clippings and drawings in Griffin's lair (yes, lair, that's what he called it.)
We also do not get much to make us sympathetic to David. Sure, his childhood wasn't great, but he more than made up for it with a lifestyle most people could only dream of, financed in super-villain style. We're even treated to a scene of him watching flood victims while the voice over intones, "It would take a miracle to get those people out of there." I'm pretty sure a dude teleporting onto a rooftop and zipping a couple of people out qualifies as a miracle.
I would like to have seen more of Bilson, (who wouldn't, eh? Eh? Nod's as good as a wink to a blind bat! Eh? Eh?) Her character served more as a damsel in distress than a strong-willed waitress from Detroit, but in the context of the damsel, she did just fine.
I couldn't help but feeling as we watched, especially towards the end, that this was meant to be the first in a series. Maybe even a movie-theater pilot for a television series later on. Perhaps that's why we were only favored with brief glimpses into what makes this world work. If so, then I'm afraid its rather dismal showing at the box office will keep us from getting any more.
Boy, now it sounds like I didn't like the movie at all! I did! Heck, any movie that refers to Marvel's Team Up not once, but multiple times, is going to get a fair shake from me. The problems I mentioned above are not deal breakers, especially not for an off-season sci-fi action movie. I had a great time suspending my disbelief and munching my popcorn as jumpers jumped, damsels distressed, and paladins-um-paladeded. I'll be picking this movie up for my home collection when it hits DVD.
I give Jumper six out of eight teleportation after-effect swirly thingies on a scale I just made up that doesn't mean anything. Now, for those of you that agree with me on the Bilson topic, here's a bonus.
Oddly Related Note Dept.
Firefox's built-in spell checker tells me teleport should be deportee. What would Bush do for a few jumpers to take care of the illegal alien situation?
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