It didn't seem that long ago that Hayden Christensen was wearing a pair of lifts, trying to convince us that he was evil incarnate. He was honoured in two Star Wars prequels to have been given the role of the man behind the mask and although at times his teenage angst came through he never really convinced us that he was anything other than a glorified TV actor. Doug Liman on the other hand has had commercial, critical and general viewer recommendation for The Bourne Identity and his later but less well enjoyed Mr & Mrs Smith.
David Rice (Max Theiriot and Hayden Christensen) is a troubled teenager, as well as having to cope with his obvious embarrassment of getting to know a girl in his class, Mille Harris (Anna Sophia Robb and Rachel Bilson) he also has to cope with the knowledge that his mother left him and his father when he was five. His father seems to be beer-swilling TV addicted parent whose only communication with David is to chastise him for some minor misdemeanour or other. On top of all of this David suddenly realises that he has the ability to teleport himself from one place to another. Initially phased with this discovery he understands that this perhaps gives him the way-out of his troubled mundane life and so he embarks on a journey of leaving home, robbing banks without opening doors, buying himself large bachelor pads and travelling the world in a blink of an eye; his life is sweet, morning in Fiji, lunch in Egypt, night clubbing in London. His life is shattered though when Roland (Samuel Jackson) pays him a visit, and Roland's mission in life is to rid the world of all jumpers.
It could be argued that there's enough pedigree in this stable to make a fine enough film. Jackson obviously doesn't need any introduction, almost 40 years in the business he's produced some interesting characters and his most noted to date surely the born again contract killer in Tarantino's incredible Pulp Fiction. Again Liman doesn't need any introduction mainly due to his storming 2005 Bourne Identity, a film which arguably reinvented the spy game and without which even Craig's Bond wouldn't have been a viscous nor as 3-dimensional as his recent outing. Fair enough Christensen is bringing up the rear a little here but surely with these two fine gents at his side this was bound to be an enjoyable action adventure right? Wrong!
The film starts well enough with David played by Christensen looking back on how he came to be in this position so we get to see some history of his, how he came to understand his talent and how he came to exploit it as anyone would in their position. And there it just takes a turn for the worse, once we jump back to current day we see Christensen being chased by an organisation intent on his demise and tracking down the girl he wanted from high school; from here on in it goes downhill, rapidly. Rachel Bilson as Mille has no on screen rapport with Christensen at all; I don't lay the blame for this at her feet but at them both, both not really having any emotional depth to portray characters who actually have feelings. Christensen is continually looking in to space as though he's still feeling for another love, Bilson has no expression in her eyes or face to convey her true feelings. Jackson is playing a role he's played all too often before and now he and the audience know he's just treading water. At times his character doesn't behave in any consistent way and at the end showing an expression which you would have thought would never have been part of this character's psyche or manner.
The action though is what this film rests upon and here I found it sadly lacking. Liman gave us on the edge excitement with Bourne but the action sequences in Jumper just don't have that same vitality; perhaps visualising how best to choreograph a scene with one of more jumpers and normal chumps was a little beyond their scope. The best scene, the one which I felt used it best was in the desert when Griffin pulls in a double-decker bus just to assist him in his fight; this was an excellent use of his abilities and one which should have been exploited more often within this film.
The storyline had potential, and not having read the original source material I can't say if it would have been any better, with David perhaps seeking out his long lost mother or seeking out others who have the same gift; but in the end it reverts to something the viewer really isn't interested in at all. A chase between the Jumper and Paladin even though we know nothing of this organisation's group or the exact reasons behind their hatred. Just as the story line was heating up a little and the action getting more intense it just seems to end. Truth be told I was shocked at this and couldn't believe it when it just finished; it's as though there is a beginning (of sorts), a middle (again of sorts) and absolutely no ending satisfactory or otherwise. As the credits rolled I really thought I had been cheated. I knew at that point that Liman and his team had expressly filmed this with sequels in mind and this was only confirmed when I delved into the extras later. At only 88 minutes long they had far more scope to add some additional depth to the characters and the storyline and they decided not to ring this out into a money making franchise and that just doesn't wash with me. Fine if a film is worth it and the viewers demand more then film a sequel or two (or with Lord of the Rings an absolute necessity); but to wring this out over a series of films for the sake of it just doesn't wash.
Overall I found Jumper incredibly disappointing; I was hooked in from the trailer and it was a film I definitely wanted to see but I have been let down by poor casting, an incredibly poor non developing storyline and weak acting.