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As far as I can tell, director Doug Liman has a lot of good ideas. Just looking at his page on the internet movie database, anyone could see that he’s had his hand in a lot of fun and interesting projects (ie: Director-Swingers, The Bourne Identity, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, etc.). However with Liman’s newest project, Jumper, he shows that, along with some of his other projects, even a great idea can only go so far without a decent plot, pace and dialogue.

Based on a novel by Steven Gould, Jumper is the story of Michigan teen David Rice (Hayden Christensen), who we’re all supposed to relate to because he’s awkward and he gets bullied and he has a crush on the popular girl. You know…real life situations here.

Either way, David has a near death experience falling into a frozen river after said bullying, and in his fight for life he magically transports himself to the Ann Arbor Public library (along with a couple gallons of water).

After walking himself home, his cliché deadbeat dad (The beer swilling child beating Michael Rooker) wants to have a word with him. But thanks to the film’s bad narration we find out that dad’s never been much of a dad, and mom left home when David was five, so he’s just got nobody and he locks himself in his room.

Well, if any of you know what kind of dad that Michael Rooker plays in all of his movies, he’s not gonna take it. So that drunk fool bursts on through that locked bedroom door to confront his bum of a son. But all of a sudden, guess what? David mysteriously bamfs out of the room, to the baffled amazement of dear old dad.

Where does David end up? Back at the Ann Arbor library, of course. And in one of the first instances of the film's bad exposition, David asks himself, “Did I just teleport?”
And we the audience yell back, “Thanks, I had no idea that’s what you were doing.”
And what’s with the library? Why would this library have such and emotional resonance with this poor kid who’s just discovered he could do such and amazing thing? I couldn’t tell you, because it’s never explained. But don’t think it’s the last you’ve seen of the library…

After David realizes what he can do, it sets him free. He takes a stash of cash and a few belongings and he chases his dreams in the Big Apple. What that’s you say? He goes off to New York to further his modeling career? Or to act? Nah, he just goes, because we don’t need character development. We’re also left wondering, if this kid who was last seen falling into a river and never came out, is he supposed to be believed dead or a runaway or what. Because the movie never tells us. Oh well.

Once in New York, David begins to hone his skills as a teleporter practicing in the park and out in public. Sounds smart, I mean, it’s only broad daylight and there are other people around… sure why not. After a few short minutes of montage, David’s ready for the big score. That’s right folks, our young David, who we haven’t really had a chance to get to know yet, decides that he’s going to use his newfound power to rob a bank. I mean, just second ago he teleported into a tree, but I guess after one good bump you have the confidence to steal from others.

So David robs the bank, gets a bunch of cash back to his sleazy NY apartment and life is good as he falls asleep on a pile of money.

Cue the montage. It’s eight years later and we now get to see how our little David has mastered his powers, and has moved up in the world. Dropping in to surf in exotic locations, have a sandwich on top of the Sphinx and bed a British lass in London town. Life is good when you’re a Jumper.

Well, as we all know, nothing lasts forever, and there has to be consequences. Bring in Samuel L. Jackson as the mysterious Roland. The silver haired Roland initially is introduced to investigate the bank robbery but obvious to all is that there’s something afoot. Roland claims to be NSA, but is he truly a g-man or something much, much worse?

Roland finally gets a bead on young David and confronts him, claiming he knows all about the young man’s ability. He also whips out a wicked taser on a pogo stick and lassos that Jumper. Sammy L is the MAN!

This picks up the story and forces our young David to return home to Michigan after eight years and get reacquainted with his high school crush Milly (The hot, yet disturbingly annoying Rachel Bilson). Milly, the popular girl, who always dreamed of travel and getting out of the small mill town, is unfortunately still stuck in that crap town and working down at the local pub. Original!

Upon peering at her from afar, the earlier arrogant seeming David reverts back to his boyhood shyness and fails to approach her and decides to leave. Too bad he bumps into the childhood bully from the beginning of the movie who’s all grown up physically, but not much emotionally. That’s right! He’s still a bully! Okay, who wants to wager that we’re going to see the bully comeuppance scene right here? Thems good odds my man, good odds indeed.

Before David can stay inconspicuous and exit the bar, he bumps into Milly, who plays it very sly, considering the last time she saw the guy he was floating down a river under a glacier of ice eight years ago.

“So you weren’t going to say hi?” Milly says.
David says, “Oh, Milly, you work here? Geez I just got here.”
“Uh, I noticed you sitting there for forty five minutes.” Milly replies.
“Oops, you got me.” Admits David.

I’m paraphrasing of course, but I’m not far off. Here’s how I felt the dialogue should have come off.

“Jesus Christ! David you’re still alive? The last time I saw you, you fell into that icy river. What the hell happened?”

But that’s just me.

After that, David convinces her to go to Rome with him.

Yes, Rome. And right then and there.

Cue exterior of plane shot and aerials of Rome. Got it? Good.

We see the two of them getting out of a taxi in Italy and entering their hotel, and in the second or maybe third instance of bad exposition (I’ve lost track at this point) Milly says, “I can’t believe that ten hours ago we were back in Michigan.”

I don’t know about you, but if a ghost from my past came back into town and invited me to a European vacation, I’d at least finish my shift at the greasy spoon, maybe wind down for a spell and then ask myself, “I haven’t seen this kid in over eight years, and I thought he might be dead, and I haven’t really spoken to him since I was an adolescent, and a lot of things happen in our formative developmental years, but I’m sure he’s a cool guy, even though the audience has no idea of any past relationship between us other than that fact that he creepily gave me a snow globe eight years ago…should I go to Italy with him? Right NOW?”

Then again, I’m not a hot, twenty something piece of ass now am I? Maybe that’s how the kids rationalize these days. But back in my day, we call that Bat Sh*T Crazy.

There’s a ton of more plot holes to continue on, but I’m getting tired. The story continues as David finds another like him in Griffin (The obligatory side kick Jamie Bell) who explains to him that there are others like him and others trying to kill them. He doesn’t really explain why and David doesn’t really ask. Kind of like director Liman is hoping the audience won’t care either and accept that half hearted exposition.

Ironically, the movie jumps all over the place and all of the characters have absolutely nothing likable about them. The movie follows the obvious path to confrontation and somehow manages to set up a possible sequel if there ever were a need. At this point, I’ve never wanted teleportation powers more. Not because the movie made it look cool, but because I want to get out of that theatre as quickly as possible.

Jumper fails on many different levels and it’s a shame because the premise is so promising. I mean, how do you mess up a tale of a race of teleporters and the group of religious fanatics out to kill them? Well, you leave it up to Doug Liman I guess. Either that or screenwriter David S. Goyer (Blade, Batman Begins) who’s usually good, but not in the case of Jumper.

And please don’t get me started on Christensen’s robotic acting and Bilson’s grating vocal pitch. I want to like Christensen. I was hoping that he might had grown as an actor since the Star Wars prequels but I was wrong, horribly wrong.

Jumper had potential, but ultimately is a terrible movie. It’s okay to suspend disbelief to believe a guy can teleport, but don’t insult the audience’s intelligence and think you can just give them a movie that makes no sense. The action scenes and special effect are probably the saving grace to this film but at no point do you care about any of the characters and what happens to them. The film even tries to paint David as immoral douchebag at first but then it never delivers a character realization or development. We’re expected to consider David’s desire to save Milly, the first time he’s put other’s needs above his, but the execution never feels like a revelation and only an obligation. It’s rushed and wrong, and it never works in the picture at all.

To paraphrase a line from Billy Madison, “Jumper, we are all now stupider for watching you… I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.”

Lon Lopez

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