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Saturday, September 30, 2023


Film Review: Lackluster acting grounds ‘Jumper’

Stop me if you’ve seen this movie: Hayden Christensen stars as a disturbed young man gifted with supernatural powers, and through the misuse of said abilities comes into conflict with an ancient, powerful order lead by Samuel L. Jackson.

Sound familiar? I thought it might, but no, my perceptive movie fans; although Jumper is indeed a 20th Century Fox-distributed science-fiction film, it is in no way affiliated with George Lucas’ Star Wars saga.

Jumper is based on a 1992 novel of the same name by author Steven Gould. The basic premise is that for centuries there have been "jumpers," people with the ability to teleport anywhere in the world through the power of thought, and "paladins," a covert agency dedicated to neutralizing them. The paladins see jumpers as an abomination and consider them a threat to the "natural" human race.

David Rice (Christensen) is ignorant to this conflict when he first discovers his powers as a teenager, and for years lives a carefree life.

Fate eventually catches up with Rice, as the reckless misuse of his abilities tips off the paladins to his true identity. One night after an eventful day of globe-hopping, he returns to his apartment only to discover paladin agent Roland (Jackson) waiting for him, and the battle begins.

While Christensen’s acting is once again unconvincing, in his defense the script doesn’t do him many favors. His character comes off as a selfish playboy whose apathetic attitude makes it difficult to cheer for even once things start going bad for him.

One scene in particular exemplifies this; as Rice flips through the channels on his big screen Television, he comes across a news story about flood victims trapped inside their homes, isolated from rescue efforts. The reporter says it "would take a miracle" to get them to safety, something we know Rice is quite capable of. But instead of jumping to the rescue, he continues channel surfing before deciding to go bar hopping in London.

This is an effective character moment, demonstrating that despite his amazing gifts, Rice has no inclination of using them for the greater good. However, there is no pay off; never a moment where Rice realizes the error of his ways and chooses to put the needs of other before his own selfish desires. Maybe that wasn’t the story the filmmakers wanted to tell, but it would have served as a much needed character arc for a main character in desperate need of one.

At the other end of the spectrum is Jackson as Agent Roland. While he does ruthlessly hunt down and murder many a jumper, his character motivations are clear.

The paladins seek out and destroy jumpers because they believe them to be a danger to mankind, and although their methods are rather extreme, the paladins see themselves as the saviors of humanity.

There is a certain ambiguity in the film as to who is truly on the "right side," or if there even is one. With a running time of less than 90 minutes, Jumper could definitely have benefited from an extra half hour or so to explain its unanswered questions.

Jumper does feature some interesting concepts, and with a little more care it might have been a memorable sci-fi film. As it stands, however, the film fails to make a lasting impression and aside from special effects and entertaining fight sequences, it really has little to offer.

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