A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 351 – Jumper

Jumper – February 15th, 2011

I was cranky when I got home from work this evening, but not cranky enough to put in one of our emergency comfort movies. I needed something mindless and superficial. Something I could bitch about but which wouldn’t actively piss me off. And so Andy looked through the list and came up with this. I asked what it was about. “Oh, crappy sci-fi about a kid who can teleport. It’s got Anakin.” Well, that about sums it up, doesn’t it? I got exactly what I was expecting after that brief summary.

The basic premise is that there are people known as ‘jumpers’ who can teleport from place to place with no real effort once they get the hang of where they’re going. And there are ‘paladins’ who hunt them down and kill them for being abominations. David, our main character, discovers he can jump. After clearing out a bank vault and running away from his negligent and borderline abusive father he ends up living the sweet life in New York City. Until Roland, a paladin who’s been trying to track him down, manages to find him and follow him to his posh apartment. And then they spend the rest of the movie doing the cat and mouse thing, with a bonus romantic subplot that inevitably leads to a damsel in distress situation.

I think what I object to the most in this movie is that it has some fun potential and nice special effects and action scenes, and yet the movie feels somewhat empty. There are attempts at meaning, but they fall flat, and I can’t really even lay it at the feet of Hayden Christensen as David. I mean, he’s not in the running for an Oscar here, but he’s certainly come a long way from mumbling lines about sand. What I really fault is the romantic plot. It’s inelegantly done and there’s no real chemistry between Christensen and Rachel Bilson as David’s long-time crush, Millie. They seem awkward together, which fits to a point, but it means I just don’t buy them as a couple. And since there’s a lot of emotional weight hung on Millie’s role as David’s romantic interest, I needed to buy them. Or at least be willing to rent. And I don’t. It just seems like a plot point, not an organic part of the story.

So much time gets spent on the David and Millie romantic story that I think the rest of the story and the rest of the world get short shrift. We know David’s mother left the family when he was five. We know David’s father scared him enough that David put a chain on his bedroom door from the inside. We find out early on that there’s something mysterious about David’s mother. We meet another jumper, Griffin, and find out that he’s been hunting down the paladins who hunt down the jumpers. There are mentions of the jumper/paladin war going back centuries. And yet we spend more time on David and Millie – with no appreciable benefit – than on the rest. Sure, we get some great bits with Samuel L. Jackson’s obsessed paladin, Roland, tracking down David, but what does he get for motivation? What do any of them get? Oh right, they’re religious fanatics who think that jumpers are abominations doing what only God should do. That’s it. That’s all the background we get. It just all seems so superficial. So hollow.

I like the concept of this movie. I like the idea behind it and I like the action and I really would like to know more about the world. Where did the paladins come from? How have they developed all their little toys and tracking devices? What do they know about jumpers? What about some more background for David’s mother and her choice to leave him? Nothing? Really? Not even some more time with the fantastic Griffin and his crusade against the paladins (haha)? It’s just plain frustrating. And really, it’s tough to root for David and Griffin and the jumpers against the clearly-pretty-nasty paladins when they’re basically cat burglars. David says several times that he won’t ‘go bad’ and that he’s different, but we never really find out just what has gone before and so we don’t know why he’s so much better. When something gives me cool super power plots and a world with an epic and long-standing battle going on, I want to feel involved and invested and this movie didn’t manage it. Maybe if it had been a little longer or spent less time on Millie. I don’t know. It needed something. Some substance. Some pathos. But really, it’s just got some neat special effects and a comic book plot. Not quite enough.

February 15, 2011 - Posted by | daily reviews | , ,

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