It’s February, that wondrous time of year when movie studios release films that sounded like great ideas, but turned out to be just that — a great idea and nothing more. “Jumper,” the latest from director Doug Liman (“Mr. and Mrs. Smith”) is such a film. “Jumper” has a great premise but succumbs to being just another February release no one will remember.
David Rice (Hayden Christensen) is a jumper, someone who can create small portals to take him anywhere in the world he wants to go. After a tragic childhood accident, Rice learns he has this unique ability. He leaves his hometown and lives a life of luxury in New York. After a day spent in Egypt and London, he encounters Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), who is a member of the Paladins, a religious group bent on killing all jumpers. Rice flees for his life, and in doing so becomes the central target in a war that has been waged for hundreds of years.
The film brings two words to mind: wasted potential. “Jumper” could have easily been the next “Matrix.” The sci-fi elements are there, as are their consequences and moral implications. The premise of jumping would allow anyone with a marginal amount of imagination to create some very memorable action sequences. Even the religious themes and symbolisms are there. But for mind-boggling reasons, Liman decided to ignore all of these possibilities, focusing on mindless action and nothing else.
Liman’s devotion to explosions and fistfights winds up ruining the story. There are so many plot holes that it makes me wonder how conscious studio executives are when screening films. Nothing about the story makes any sense, especially characters’ motivations. Why Roland and his crew want to kill the jumpers is never explained. The closest the movie comes to an explanation is a line that Jackson recites not only multiple times in the movie, but in the trailer as well: “Only God should have the power to be in all places at all times.”
There are many obvious questions that are never addressed in the film. Why jumpers stay and fight when attacked instead of jumping halfway around the world is one of many things I asked myself. It would make sense if they were armed and ready to fight, but plenty of times they are caught off guard and not prepared. The power that Roland and his army have is never explained. They can infiltrate any government agency at any time, but where this influence comes from is never addressed. These plot holes are so distracting that they take away any enjoyment from the film, leaving a film devoid of any emotion or meaning.
The one thing “Jumper” proves is that Christensen cannot act. He nearly ruined the “Star Wars” prequels and his lack of talent helps to destroy “Jumper.”
Bad acting is one thing – annoying characters are another. Rice is perhaps the cockiest, most ignorant jerk I’ve seen, and he’s the film’s hero. He makes stupid decisions around every corner and doesn’t understand anything about the war he’s involved in.
Perhaps the most aggravating part of “Jumper” is the action sequences are actually really cool. It would have been easier to write this movie off if everything in it was bad, but the fact that Liman shows us a glimpse of just how awesome this movie could have been is frustrating to say the least.
I thought for a moment that the curse of February was over, that for once there would be a good film released in this cold, depressing month. But “Jumper” ends up being just another film that will be on the shelf in Blockbuster in a few months.