Review of Jumper

Octa submitted a review of the weekend’s biggest box office draw. Read the review below.

Cast and Crew

Director: Doug Liman
Writers: David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls, Simon Kinberg

Hayden Christensen as David Rice
Rachel Bilson as Millie
Samuel L. Jackson as Roland
Jamie Bell as Griffin
Diane Lane as Mary Rice

Full credits available at the imdb.

Premise

A young boy learns he has the power of teleportation which he uses to rob banks and live a jet set lifestyle, ultimately leading to a secret organization of “Paladins” hunting him down.

High Point

The visual splendor of watching two jumpers chase each other across the globe and using their powers in creative ways to try and stop each other.

Low Point

The best a secret organization, with seemingly unlimited funding and lack of ethics, can come up with is a tube that shoots an electrical net?

The Review

Originality: 3/6. The concept, and even its rules, seems directly lifted from the pages of X-men’s Nightcrawler. The movie is also based on a series of novels by the same name.

Effects: 6/6. The effect used for teleportation is excellent. The immediate area around the jumper when he teleports is affected by some kind of pressure and this is visualized by walls being pushed in, dust kicking into the air, water rippling. It’s very subtle but adds a lot to accepting what they’re doing on screen. It seemed “believable” and made me all the more wishing I could do it too!

Story 4/6. The writers do a good job of establishing how the main character discovers his powers and his motivations in abusing them. Where the story falls flat is the description of the secret organization hunting him down. Their purpose is at best ambiguous and at times simply ridiculous. The “power” is never really explained either which was probably a smart move as the reason given in the novels takes a lot of suspension of disbelief. The resolution is interesting and one I hope they’ll be able to develop in the future.

Acting: 3/6. Hayden manages to channel his inner Anakin by playing a wooden character whose only emotional response to everything is having a temper tantrum. The chemistry with his love interest is almost non-existent. Seriously, trade Rachel Bilson’s character with Padme and you’d have a re-enactment of Episode 2’s love story. Everyone else does a good job of supporting the story. Samuel L. Jackson played the perfect “hunter” but I felt his character had a deeper back-story than what was presented. A highpoint is Jamie Bell’s character as a rebel jumper out to hunt the hunters. He managed to bring some laughter to a movie that was slowly coming to taking itself too seriously.

Production 5/6. I’m not sure if all the locations were actually shot onsite but they managed to fool me if they didn’t.

Emotional Response: 5/6. The premise is very cool and manages to present the “power” in a believable way. The end fight/chase scene is especially exciting. There’s a bit of a twist at the very end which, as I mentioned above, I hope gets developed in the movies.

Overall 5/6. An enjoyable sci-fi action movie that, if you consider yourself a fan of the genre, must see. They didn’t skimp on the teleporting effects and despite Hayden’s efforts to ruin the movie the supporting cast does an admirable job of pulling it all together.

In total, Jumper receives 31/42.

11 replies on “Review of Jumper”

  1. spideylinux says:

    Not bad, but not great
    The effects were great the story was too short and the acting by Anakin and his new girlfriend was horrible. I’m convinced now that Hayden can’t act and it isn’t just a poor script. Jackson was very good as was the paladin hunter. One thing I’m glad about is that they didn’t explain the jumping power.

    Rule Number 1 of Fantasy/Sci-Fi powers: Don’t over explain the power. Let there be some mystery as how it all works and our imagination will do the rest.

    I would say this is a good Sunday afternoon movie.

  2. jayhawk88 says:

    My comic geek is showing (spoilers)
    Regarding the movie borrowing from Nightcrawlers powers, I get what you’re saying, but it’s worth noting that the Jumpers are significantly more powerful than Nightcrawler. Kurt’s range is maybe 2 miles if he pushes himself, and certainly not globe spanning. Also while Kurt can teleport things with him, he rarely if ever has been proficient enough to teleport something as massive as a BMW.

    Regarding the movie, I thought it’s biggest problem was the directors/producers obvious desire to set this franchise up for a sequel(s). They took great pains to show us how wonderful having this Jumper ability would be, when in reality we figure this out for ourselves early on during the lead characters first bank heist.

    As others have pointed out, this movie wants very badly to be the Matrix, but doesn’t really comprehend what made the Matrix truly great. When you’re making a movie like this, you’re core audience is squarely a person like me; someone who grew up with and has a working knowledge of sci-fi, comics, video games, and appreciates a good story. I like shiny special effects of course, but more important to me is the mythos. What makes the Matrix truly great is not bullet time or the helicopter scene, it’s Morpheus’s speech to Neo when he is first describing what the Matrix is. It’s the question "Do you think that’s air your breathing", that hints to the boundless possibilities of people who can control the Matrix. It’s Neo and Tank going through all the training programs. It’s various characters hints and discussions as to what it is to be The One.

    We don’t get this level of detail in Jumpers. OK, Paladins have killed Jumpers for centuries, but why? There is obviously more to the story than "Because only God should be omnipresent", as clearly a Jumper would be an incredible military and/or spy asset to those in power. There is a story here about how Jumpers can never be fully controlled (Sam hints at this as well, "Eventually you all turn bad") that we do not get. What causes a person to become a Jumper, what is significant about the age of 5? How does a person become a Paladin? Who is funding them?

    More backstory (and yes less Hayden making googely eyes at his girl) would have, ironically, done a fabulous job at setting this franchise up for the sequel(s) the makers of the film so obviously wanted.

    • Timeshredder says:

      Re: My comic geek is showing (spoilers)

      Regarding the movie borrowing from Nightcrawlers powers, I get what you’re saying, but it’s worth noting that the Jumpers are significantly more powerful than Nightcrawler.

      I get what you’re saying, too, but do we need to trace it to Nightcrawler, specifically? Teleportation has been used in SF before, and it’s a pretty common fantasy.

      • octa says:

        Re: My comic geek is showing (spoilers)
        It’s more the rule he has to see where he’s going or have been there at least once when I made the parallel. Nightcrawler was the only one I could think of when it came to those restrictions.

      • octa says:

        Re: My comic geek is showing (spoilers)
        Oh and the "scar" left behind reminded me of the trace Nightcrawler leaves behind.

    • octa says:

      Re: My comic geek is showing (spoilers)
      Yeah, the Paladins were sorely missing a back-story. The beginning of the movie presents them as government agents but then you come to realize they’re just religious wackos… or are they? So frustrating.

      One scene early on had Hayden’s charater watching a news report about people stuck in the middle of a flood and the reporter making a comment to the affect "only god can save them now." The fact Hayden’s character doesn’t even consider it tells me there must be something to what the Paladins are saying. Or they were simply trying to establish how selfish he is. Either way, I thought it was a subtle piece of brilliant writing. The whole movie has snippets of this "deeper meaning" but doesn’t take it anywhere in favor of showing teen angst and flashy effects.

      But damn those effects were so good :D

      • jayhawk88 says:

        Re: My comic geek is showing (spoilers)

        But damn those effects were so good :D

        That’s what was so frustrating to me. There’s a good movie there, you could feel it. The river scene like you mention, Sam’s comment of "It’s probably been a while since you used a door", etc. And yeah, there were a couple of times during the fight scenes near the end, when Griffin used the bus and later a truck to attack Sam and Hayden, that was literally shout-out-loud good for me.

        And yes I was being totally anal about the Nightcrawler thing, but good point about the line of sight thing.

  3. vanyel says:

    A good series pilot
    I think people are a little harsh on Hayden (and Keanu, for the same reason), when the same thing applies to Sean Connery: none of them act. Or at least only use one character. The trick is to use them in roles that match that character, and in that, at least, I think worked in Jumper. He is the nerdy geek at the beginning, and then the calm "the world is my oyster" "jump-setter". Even in the later parts, I found it believable.

    Even so, he’s not in Jamie Bell’s league by any stretch, who I thought got short-shrift…

    What disappointed me about it was how obviously it was just a setup for more to come, barely more than an admittedly stellar chase sequence. Even that though, left out some obvious things, like given that griffin knew that the paladins could follow them through wormholes, he’d have laid traps for them.

    Also, I suppose it’s realistic, but why do they always wait far too long to tell the people they’re with what’s going on?

    Basically, I really wish this had been written by the Journeyman people, who really know how to make it realistic and develop characters.

  4. ViperDriver says:

    Reluctant to see this…
    …because I read the *original* version of the novel when it came out years ago, and this appears to be a massive rewrite specifically for Hollywood. Note that the book on sale now (Jumper: Griffin’s Story) is the author’s rewrite for the movie. The plot has changed. The writing has changed. The character has changed.
    <p>
    The original book was excellent fun because it did just what others have been advocating – it presented the protagonist as having a clearly-defined but unexplained Power (Jumping, duh) and then followed him as he realized this, explored it, and pondered the ramifications both moral and otherwise. The original story presented a good reason for his initial ‘selfish’ use of the Power – as an abused child, he runs away from home and has no money and no ID to support himself, so robs a bank. Once. There are no other Jumpers; thus there is no ‘secret anti-Jumper organization’ and no backstory required. In the book, there is the much more believable US government security apparatus both frightened by and jealous of the abilities the Power represents, leading to their attempts to secure him.

    I think I’ll probably eventually see the movie, but I’m going to be sitting there grumping about how crappy this rewrite is. I did skim through the ‘new’ version of the book, and I can say it looks an awful lot ‘darker’ than the original – mostly due to what appears to be massive franchise sequel setups.

    For another couple of excellent stories of the consequences and logistics of a Power unleashed on/by a teenager, I strongly recommend ‘Lifter’ by Crawford Kilian (1986), or another book by Steven Gould, the author of ‘Jumper’ – ‘Wildside’ (1997).

  5. Kaki says:

    Ugh
    Voiceover to give backstory…. booooo. What, you can’t just, you know, actually tell the story? If you trust the script that little, why not fix it rather than use the dirty hack?

    Is momentum conserved through a jump? I think it can’t be (point A to any distant point B on Earth would be leathal), which opens up all sorts of tricks and some easy traps to lay for any paladins that try to follow a jump.

    What was rich looking mommy even doing with poor looking daddy? Slumming it?

  6. is says:

    entertaining…
    It was an entertaining movie. It ended up being about what I expected and less than I had hoped for. I wasn’t expecting much backstory on the Paladins, but we got basically none. That’s fairly lousy. A one liner "reason" why they hate jumpers simply doesn’t cut it. I don’t mind writers hinting at bigger things, but it seemed like the underlying story was all hints and no substance, while the cool effects and fights were thrown up to distract us.
    <BR><BR>I have a feeling it could have been great, but it was just average.

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