- The Washington Times - Friday, February 15, 2008

What would you do if you could teleport to anyplace on the planet?

If you’re Hayden Christensen, the star of the new teleportation movie “Jumper,” you might beam over to the offices of the film’s three screenwriters and demand to see the missing script pages.

How else can you explain a movie with so much exposition, characterization and, well, story left behind?

Mr. Christensen is David, a Michigan man with an unusual gift. He can transport himself at will to anywhere on Earth, be it the top of the Sphinx or the end of his couch so he doesn’t have to get up and get the television remote.

The prologue explains how David, as a teenager, first learned about his power.

Young David (Max Thieriot) was trying to retrieve something thrown onto a frozen pond when the ice gave way, sending him plunging into the water. Instead of drowning, he found himself transported to a nearby library, sopping wet but still alive.

Once he realized what he could do, he decided to leave his abusive father (Michael Rooker) and head out on his own.

Eight years later, David’s jumping is paying plenty of dividends.

He transports in and out of bank vaults and walks away with sacks of cash — the perfect crime. And he jet sets, sans jet, around the globe whenever the mood strikes.

So far, so vacuous, and director Doug Liman conveys the amoral sense of freedom transporting affords.

However, our hero doesn’t realize that other people, or “jumpers,” share his talents. And some folks don’t like jumpers at all.

A mysterious man named Roland (Samuel L. Jackson) thinks that only God should have such powers and that all jumpers turn evil eventually. The movie offers no proof of such claims, and this brief information is all Mr. Jackson gets in the way of a back story.

He’s good, but not good enough to fill in so many crucial blanks.

Roland does have an electric lasso, though, which when wrapped around jumpers negates their powers.

“Jumper,” like its protagonist, bounces from one scene to the next with little interest in fleshing any of them out. David’s on-again, off-again romance with Millie (Rachel Bilson), the girl for whom he risked his life on the pond, fails to win us over, and we’re told next to nothing about Roland and his group of jumper-hating paladins.

Mr. Liman, he of the overrated “Go” (1999), should have watched the first five minutes of “X2: X-Men United” before starting this assignment. In “X2,” the character Nightcrawler (Alan Cumming) invades the White House, teleporting from hallway to hallway in a brilliantly choreographed blur.

None of the action in “Jumper” can lay a glove on Nightcrawler’s spree. The scenes are impossible to follow: a series of transportation flashes that dull the senses, not to mention the brain.

The final duel between David and Roland might make a great special effects training film, but it’s a lousy way to cap an action movie.

“Billy Elliot” star Jamie Bell does provide some tension as a fellow jumper, but his character is just as underwritten as every other element here.

“Jumper” ends with a scene designed to inspire a sequel. Instead, it prompts snickers.

If they insist on making “Jumper 2,” they sure have a lot of explaining to do.


TITLE: “Jumper”

RATING: PG-13 (Intense action and brief sexuality)

CREDITS: Directed by Doug Liman. Screenplay by David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls and Simon Kinberg, based on the novel by Steven Gould.

RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes

WEB SITE: www.jumperthemovie.com


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