Based on the 1992 novel by Stephen Gould, “Jumper” is the story of a teenage misfit from Ann Arbor who begins to realize after drowning in an icy lake that he is a certified jumper.
He is “a genetic anomaly” who can teleport himself from here to there, or rather from Ann Arbor to Tokyo, to the Sahara to Rome, or any other variations thereof in an instant. He is David Rice, and as played by Hayden Christensen, he turns into a hot world traveler, thanks to the millions he has acquired by teleporting himself through bank vaults, pilfering the contents and leaving authorities flummoxed.
Unfortunately, his genetic disposition has made him and other jumpers like Jamie Bell’s Griffin marks for Paladins, police from centuries back, who resent anyone trying to play God. As played by Samuel L. Jackson, equipped with a tightly fitted gray wig, the arch-hunter of jumpers is Roland, who has no trouble slipping a blade up the abdomen and through the heart of jumpers everywhere.
The question at hand: Will Roland and his gang of Paladins get David Rice, slay him and be done with it? And what does David’s mother, Mary, as played by Diane Lane, have to do with the hunt?
Based on Stephen Gould’s 1992 novel and as directed by Doug Liman (“Swingers,” “Go,” and “The Bourne Identity”), “Jumper” is slickly conceived and technically adroit. It’s a sleek piece of filmmaking that is an end itself, an imaginary travelogue with splendid effects, and might I add, much ado about nothing.
As a short piece of entertainment, it will arrest the attention of a target audience of teens and diehard science-fiction aficionados. I’m none of the above, but it at first attracted me as well. However, as the narrative whizzed by, it remained emotionally empty and thematically simple. If I have missed some allusions to politics, theology, global warming, thermodynamics or anything pertaining to the human genome, my apologies in advance.
What I did see and glean was a story about a young man with special powers who returns now and then to see his father and the girl of his eye. Played by Rachel Bilson, she gets to travel with him to the desert and to the Colosseum in Rome, where they get a private tour, thanks to David’s extraordinary powers. I witnessed a number of showdowns with Roland, the Paladin, together with more than a few rescues and escapes.
In short, “Jumper” is a movie with no special powers. Despite its slick and sleek approach to extraordinary events, it remains quite ordinary and remarkably nondescript.
DIRECTED BY Doug Liman
SCREENPLAY BY David Goyer and Jim Uhls
STARRING Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Diane Lane and Michael Rooker
RUNNING TIME: 88 minutes