February 12, 2008
OUT: February 14th
The ‘real’ superhero comes to town on Friday, blessed with the ultimate travelling power we can only dream about. No traffic jams, no baggage check and no trees on the line. This is the story of a boy who discovers the gift of teleportation, and proceeds to bore us to the grave with it for the next 90 minutes.
Hayden ‘Anakin Skywalker’ Christensen is David, the picked-on kid who accidentally stumbles upon his ability to move from place to place in the blink of an eye. Keeping his talent a secret from the rest of the world, David spends his days robbing banks and taking dream holidays across the globe. Reunited with his junior school sweetheart, he soon meets the fateful consequences of his actions when Samuel L Jackson and a deadly team of ‘Paladins’ track him down and try to dispatch him.
A nifty idea, you might think, and in the hands of someone with any amount of writing prowess it might deliver. But for all its impressive visuals and innovative action sequences, Jumper falls foul of one of the weakest screenplays in recent history. Not a single star in the reasonably credible cast can rise above the 2D characters and pathetic dialogue, clunking clumsily through the paper-thin plot with no hint of humour or, most disastrously, fun.
It wants to be the next comic book phenomenon (and even lazily references Marvel’s team-up phase), but with no cult material to work from Jumper is a contrived attempt to rival Spiderman and co. The central problem lies with the central character. Miserable, arrogant, selfish, careless and bland, David is simply not a likable guy. Christensen isn’t the most charismatic of actors at the best of times, and here he falls flat on his face.
Cinema’s high-class whore Samuel L Jacson phones in his haircut-based performance, yet still manages to be the most appetising item on the menu. OC totty Rachel Bilson is wasted in the helpless female role, and Diane Lane’s cameo is an insult. Even the talented Jamie Bell and his shameful attempt at an accent can’t make a satisfying character out of the vigilante jumper David clashes with.
After the first half-hour of pure crap, you begin to wonder when things will start going right.
The saving grace comes courtesy of the premise, and the showdowns between the Jumpers and their Paladin hunters get better as the script gets worse. Being able to teleport just a few metres during close combat is a mouth-watering skill, and one which does transfer well to the screen. The most stunning effects arrive in the final third, when Bell and Christensen start teleporting buses, lorries and buildings to places as exotic and varied as Rome’s Coliseum and the Pyramids of Egypt.
But all the pretty dressing in the post-production studio can’t make up for the shortfalls in story. The complete neglect of charm, intelligence and any depth of character is like a slap to the audience’s face, Bourne Identity director Doug Liman clearly forgetting what makes a movie complete. The locations may throw up occasionally awesome cinematography, but relying on special effects and sharp editing to carry any film in any genre is a sure-fire giveaway that it’s nothing more than a money-spinning exercise. They really don’t know what they’re trying to acheive.
It’s never a good sign when you find yourself actually wanting the ‘hero’ to meet his sticky end about half way in, and praying for another instalment of Spiderman just to stop the rot. Please, please, please don’t go and see this, because if it does even the smallest bit of business at the box-office, you know they’ll curse us with a sequel.