Movie review: “Jumper”

Hubby had been eyeing this one longingly, ever since the poster appeared in the window of the local DVD rental, but it was always out. After trying unsuccessfully for several nights in a row, we finally booked it for tonight.

It’s a 2008 sci-fi action film that is based on the sci-fi novel by Steven Gould. It was directed by Doug Liman, he of the startlingly blue eyes, who also directed The Bourne Identity and Mr and Mrs Smith. He didn’t, incidentally, direct The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum, but acted as executive producer, whereas Paul Greengrass took over as director (he also directed United 93, about ‘the flight that fought back’) for those two movies.

Jumper stars Hayden Christensen as David Rice, who has a schoolboy crush on a seriously cute-looking girl, Millie, played by Rachel Bilson. One day after school, he gives her a snow globe that shows the Eiffel Tower of Paris, because he knows that she longs to travel. When Mark, a fellow classmate and an unpleasant bully, takes it from her and tosses it onto a frozen lake, David walks onto the cracking lake to retrieve the snow globe. Predictably, the ice cracks completely and he falls into the water.

However, instead of drowning, he suddenly finds himself (and a wave of ice-cold water) landing in the nearby public library. In this way, David discovers that he has the ability to teleport – or jump – from one location to another. Like a typically unhappy teenager, he decides to run away from home, and then manages to rob a bank by repeatedly ‘jumping’ into and out of a high-security vault. The story then moves forward 8 years. In the meantime, David has become quite adept at jumping from one country to another, living off the money he has stolen.

Of course you know that such behaviour cannot go unpunished by society, and this is where the so-called ‘Paladins’ appear. Their leader Roland is played by Samuel L Jackson with revolting lurid white hair; they have been tenaciously and viciously tracking and hunting ‘jumpers’ (yes, there’s more of ’em) for centuries. Apparently the rather old-fashioned title ‘paladin’ is “still used to describe a benevolent, heroic champion, or the defender of a good cause.” (Wikipedia) (Well, I suppose it depends which side you’re on.)

While trying to escape from the Paladins, David meets Griffin (played by Jamie Bell who entertained us a few years ago with his graceful dancing in Billy Elliott), another jumper who has the wildest and fruffliest shock of hair.

The action sequences and fight scenes, where the characters flip from one location to the next, are excellent and so fast-moving they leave you breathless.

It was filmed in 20 cities in 14 countries between 2006 and 2007, which must be quite a record. With Liman at the helm, it’s not surprising that the script was rewritten constantly, even on a daily basis, in consultation with the actors on the day of shooting. In one of the Special Features, he in fact admitted that this is what he does with all his movies, and that might be why he exceeds budgets and time-frames and why studio execs were tearing their hair out.

The way the movie was structured and its completely unsatisfactory ending no doubt means that it will be a trilogy – depending, I suppose, on whether the producers come up with the necessary funds.

  • Trailer on YouTube
  • This New York Times review was rather scathing
  • But Popular Mechanics published an interesting article about the physics behind teleportation and wormholes
  • And if you want to find out more about teleportation and wormholes, check out Wikipedia


Other movies we’ve watched in July:  

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