After I watched Jumper, I was surprised with how many times I've asked myself "why" and couldn't find answer for them during the 88 minutes of film. This indicates a disproportionally high number of plot holes for so little story time, something very disappointing taking into account the film had three experienced writers working on it: David S. Goyer who wrote Dark City, Jim Uhls who wrote Fight Club and Simon Kinberg who wrote Mr. & Mrs. Smith and xXx 2... well... two good writers anyway.
Based on a book by Steven Gould, the film is about David Rice (Hayden Christensen), a young man who has the amazing power to teleport to anywhere he wishes. Abandoned by his mother at the age of five and living with his father (Michael Rooker), he decides to travel around the world, using his super powers to break into banks to keep the high standards of his life. But he ends up by attracting the attention of the "Paladines", a group that has as only objective to elliminate the "Jumpers" such as David, led by the mean Roland (Samuel L. Jackson). Trying to protect the love of his childhood, Millie (Rachel Bilson), the boy meets another jumper, Griffin (Jamie Bell), who can help him defeat Roland and find out what's the real reason for his mother to leave him.
With a very interesting first act, which follows the experiences of the main character while he's discovering his newly discovered powers, Jumper shows us efficientely the several attractives of a gift like David's, who has the freedom which "normal" people can only dream of. On the other hand, the film doesn't makes the slightest effort to make him a sympathetic person. Quite the contrary actually, his selfishness is proven in a scene where he overhears on the TV something about people trapped in a flood and doesn't even consider the idea that he might help them. Not that the script needed such a dramatic plot, what could've ended being very cliché, but the film would surely benefit from some drama at all, since it has none. Instead, it simply makes the easier choise, the "lady in distress" scheme.
Meanwhile, the great Samuel L. Jackson (who, by the way, is still establishing** himself as the new Michael Caine: an enormous talent wasted for easy money, in several films that are not worthy of their presence) is Roland, a caricature who does the most evil deeds without any clear motivations, except being the bad guy, with a hair so white that makes his characterization even more absurd. And to top it all, he's also undermined by the script, that doesn't concern in establishing** the motivations of the Paladines (actually there's a silly attempt to connect them with the Catholic Church and with the Spanish Inquisition, but they fail miserabily). Why, for example, the jumpers are seen with such prejudice? How does the Paladines discover the existance of the jumpers? What's real about the statement that the jumpers become "evil" as time goes by? And evil in which sense? Yes, Roland talks about God with some frequency, but without the smallest conviction, like his "faith" was just an excuse to go on that bloody hunt for the jumpers.
At least the fact is that Jackson tries to give some energy to his character, while Hayden Christensen shows once again a huge lack of charisma well known to the Star Wars fans. His blank acting echoes in the same uninteresting performance of Rachel Bilson, who simply lets her beauty do the talking for her character. And if Diane Lane does nothing more than an appearence and a cameo by Tom Hulce as the "mentor" for David, clearly indicates that an entire subplot was abandoned. Jamie Bell, though, gives so much intensity to Griffin, that this character becomes the most interesting one of the film. It's a pitty that the "jumper" of the title is not him, since his character makes us, much more interested in knowing his past and follow his advertures than** the main character.
Giving a direction that ever matches the talent he used in Go!, The Bourne Identity or even the weak Mr. & Mrs. Smith, filmmaker Doug Liman allows the script and the art direction make the mistake of placing the bathroom of a bank by the side of a maximum security safe, not to mention the action scenes (action?) that are his specialities, minimally inventive or even exciting, something basic for the genre. But aren't only of mistakes that this film is made, the production compensates the average photography with an infinity of plans shot in magnificent locations in Egypt, England, France (yay!!) and Japan, what at least makes Jumper into some kind of brief touristic journey. Still, the lack of structure of the script makes the narrative undeniebly empty, since the action doesn't convince, the romance is silly and the characters shallow.
Still not convinced the film has even more plot holes? So why Roland doesn't kill the man who was teleported to the bank safe, since he witnessed David's powers? Then again, why does he should kill anybody else closer to the hero? And when David follows Griffin, why does he teleport to so many different places if this won't make much difference, since the other one is perfectly capable to follow him? Obvious answer: allowing the production to travel the world and put some interest in the sequence, even if it doesn't give any logic to the plot. And why the jumpers doesn't simply teleport again when they're being followed by the Paladines, since they leave behind their "machines" (which are never fully explained either) after the first jump?
Mentioning briefly some "war" between jumpers and paladines, without giving it the proper attention, the film leaves all those holes, simply to focus its narrative in an unsatisfactory way, leaving all kinds of "hooks" behind, what's a shame, because in due to excess of worries about further sequels, prequels and the tons of money they can make, the film itself ends up forgotten by the makers.
**Thanks Thilian for the "heads up" :)
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