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Jumper takes a pretty cool sci-fi idea, and doesn’t quite seem to know what to do with it. On the surface it should be a stronger film. Everything’s there, but director Doug Liman, helming his first film since 2005’s success Mr. & Mrs. Smith, never puts all the pieces together.
Hayden Christensen stars as David Rice, a boy from a single parent, broken home who at the age of 15, discovers he has the ability to instantaneously teleport himself any place he can visualize. David uses his ability to teleport himself away from his father, and years later we catch up with him as a young adult. He’s used his abilities to make himself rich, and he lives a solitary life of leisure, teleporting from his couch to the refrigerator, and from the refrigerator to Egypt where he has lunch sitting on the head of the Sphinx. Distance means nothing to him, and he appears content to go on skulking around the world sleeping with women in different countries and having the kind of good time we all wish we could have.
Of course nothing that good lasts forever, and it’s not long before David is discovered with a secret organization whose sole purpose is to hunt down and murder “jumpers” (their term for people with his abilities). After narrowly escaping his first violent encounter with the nameless organization’s top operative Roland (Samuel L. Jackson with white paint on his head), David runs home, gets the girl (Rachel Bilson) so he can put her in extreme danger, and then joins forces with a fellow jumper to kick some secret organization ass.
The problem with all of this is that Liman never stops to make any sense of it. We get a good feel for David, but never any notion of who or what this secret group is, why they’re attacking him, or how they’re able to find him in the first place. Most of what happens in the film happens simply because it’s written that way. It’s almost as if the movie needed to be longer. It touches on too many different subplots and never really resolves any of them. The movie sets itself off on a certain path, and that path leads absolutely nowhere. And so what could have been an interesting science fiction adventure ends up as a fun, but ultimately unsatisfying adventure flick.
Jumper is fun though, and maybe that’s enough to justify seeing it. Some of the action sequences are moderately thrilling, even if they don’t seem to really mean anything. Samuel L. Jackson is wasted, but the teleportation effects are cool and Hayden is adequate as a spoiled man-child turned pseudo-hero. It’s an empty special effects flick which had the potential to be better than it is, but it's so riddled with plot holes that it never musters up the mental energy to actually be better. Sometimes thrilling, occasionally confounding, Jumper is a great concept which seems to only have half of a script, cut up into bits and pieces.