“Jumper” is an absolute mess of a film. Leave it to Hollywood to turn an incredibly cool concept whose very nature will hook you in to watching it in to a badly plotted, poorly executed and horrendously acted travesty that will leave you demanding your money back. Ironically, the film is directed by none other than indie maestro Doug Liman who has a great track record for delivering more unique Hollywood films that deliver the goods. Perhaps he needed to make one lemon in his career. There are so many things wrong with this film but at the end of the day the fault lies squarely on Liman’s shoulders. How he could make such a bad film from a great concept such as personal teleportation is beyond belief but the proof is in the film’s pudding.
Based on a successful graphic novel from the early nineties, “Jumper” is at best loosely based on this source material about the hard-done-by teenage boy David Rice who discovers in a life threatening situation that he has the ability to teleport himself from one place to another. Soon enough, he learns to control this talent and discovers he can transport himself anywhere on Earth. David runs away from his broken home and eventually steals a million dollars from a bank undetected, starting a new life in the process. These opening sequences featuring Max Thieriot as David and AnnaSophia Robb as David’s love interest Millie are the best in the film largely thanks to a slower pace and better acting by the young cast members as we see their relationship develop.
Flash forward ten years and David, now played by the still wooden and uncharismatic Hayden Christensen, is now living the high life in a New York penthouse with everything at his fingertips. Almost immediately, the film heads downwards largely thanks to Christensen’s inability to generate any sympathy for his character. When his life is in jeopardy by the arrival of Roland (a very bored looking Samuel L. Jackson), the film becomes an erratic editorial mess as David discovers he is now involved in a war between jumpers like himself and a band of zealots lead by Roland dedicated to destroying them. Nothing wrong with the concept itself, but the execution gives no room for development, no access in to the journey the characters are taking, but does manage to give schizophrenic tone and pace shifts that will drive you nuts.
The further the film goes, the more you get lost visually as they jump to recognizable places all over the world while having fight scenes at the same time but giving you no sense of the danger involved or what is at stake (if there is anything!). I’m sure this was a cool concept on paper but the resulting execution is poor and messy. The film is also not helped by poor logic gaps and badly thought out sequences; for example, David saves his father by teleporting him in the middle of a crowded hospital area. However, no one bothers to question how David suddenly appeared before them, or that he has damaged the floor and surrounding equipment due to his teleportation. No, they just see his ill father and immediately rush to help him without any questions, allowing David to disappear in to the night yet again.
Hayden Christensen, unfortunately for him, is not an actor and this film, if the Star Wars prequels did not do so, proves it. He does have good looks, but he is saddled with playing a potentially complex, emotionally immature character with no sense of responsibility and it is annoying to watch this through Christensen’s clumsy fumbling of dialogue and facial expressions. Stumbling over words and having funny looks with no apparent acting skills looks more like amateur-time rather than a serious attempt to portray such a character and as such he looks more like a wooden mannequin than a person. As a result, you have a hard time buying why a character like Millie, despite her connection to the character set up in the opening scenes, would ever want to follow such a dangerous and uncharismatic misfit of a boy despite how good he looks.
Samuel L. Jackson looks like he is going through the motions as Roland. He looks bored and does not seem to be all that interested in what is going on which is a shame because his bad guy presence does carry some weight. Jamie Bell as Griffin is perhaps the only highlight in the cast as the connection David finds to the world of the jumpers. Bell manages to induce a sense of fun while laying on the exposition. Another surprise is a cameo by Diane Lane as David’s mother. She certainly holds the screen, particularly against Christensen, but one has to wonder what possessed her to take on such a small role in a film that was so badly done. Liman’s reputation perhaps? I doubt it will work on his next film.
Watching the documentaries on this DVD, understanding the nature of the production speaks volumes to the mess this film is. It would appear that Liman was changing things on a daily basis and as such there is little wonder the film does not cohere. “Jumper” is an unfortunate waste of time and money; cool concept, exceptional bad delivery.
Both the visual and audio transfers of the film for this DVD are spectacular. The images are very clean, crisp and colorful, delivering the feast for the visual senses that the film offers. The audio makes full use of the surrounds, and the “jump” effect used whenever one of the characters teleports is quite good. Overall, “Jumper” has received an excellent transfer.
An unexpected bonus of this DVD is that the extras package is actually very good. Although the film is quite bad, the documentary features present on this disc which equate to around two hours of behind the scenes material make the DVD almost worth buying. The audio commentary by director Doug Liman and producers Lucas Foster and Simon Kinberg is interesting in that the details and motivations they impart throughout the scenes seem to explain why the film is the way it is but also raises the contradiction between how much thought and effort went in to the film yet so little of it is apparent in the final product.
There are also a series of documentary featurettes focusing on various aspects of the filmmaking process including locations, cast, special effects, deleted scenes, pre-visualisation, and a curious look at the original graphic novel. However, the jewel in the crown is the forty minute documentary “Doug Liman’s Jumper: Exposed” which provides about as close as possible a document to the filmmaking process as you can get. Some of the interviews give the impression of trying to sugar-coat Liman’s nutcase and erratic directorial behaviour, but the footage does offer a lot of very candid moments that you would not otherwise see in material like this; images in particular of Liman running around with the steadicam in the Colosseum while ignoring his 1st AD yelling out in the megaphone asking him what he wants to do next are priceless and go to show why the film is perhaps the mess that it is. In one of the featurettes we see Jamie Bell lose it as his frustration with the way the film is being made bubbles to the surface. Watching Samuel L. Jackson and Hayden Christensen trying to give a positive spin on working with Liman is also amusing as it looks like they are struggling to come up with a good answer. This is an excellent collection of extras; it’s just a shame that the film is so bad and average given how much effort appears to have gone in to the making of it.
BOTTOM LINE: Rent it.
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