Haden Christensen delivered to us an insulting, lackluster, and unnecessary character of Anakin Skywalker in two of the prequel Star Wars movies. George Lucas is obviously to blame for that. Surely Haden Christensen could recover from such a terrible role, right? Well… maybe not.
High school student David Rice (Haden Christensen) lives in Anne Arbor. At the age of five, he was abandoned by his mother, so he lives with his alcoholic father. He’s got a crush on Millie (Rachel Bilson), and is picked on by at least one other kid at school. One winters' day, David becomes trapped under the ice on the river. Just before drowning, he discovers he can transport himself instantaneously to any place on earth. He leaves town, goes to New York City, robs a bank vault, and comes to the attention of a shadowy group called “The Paladins.” Eight years later The Paladins, lead by the murderous Roland Cox (Samuel L. Jackson), get a fix on David. Attempting to flee, David returns home to invite Millie to travel with him as far away as he can get. But he soon realizes that Roland and The Paladins are even more obsessive and deadly than he thought, and are bent on eliminating “Jumpers” like David. David finds another Jumper named Griffin (Jamie Bell) who is at war with The Paladins. Simply wanting to be free of The Paladins, David attempts to join Griffin, but ends up being more of a hindrance than anything.
Haden Christensen doesn’t seem to be able to act very well. He’s got this very forced style that seems on par with a high school drama student. He acts a lot like he did in Star Wars but without such “profound” dialogue. David's character is a thief, a coward, selfish, uninteresting, non-developing, and seems devoid of social graces, relying on his good looks to get him laid. No one in the movie seems to like David; Griffin doesn’t like him because David screws up Griffin’s plans and makes bumbling mistakes. Millie wants to like David, but he acts so weird and secretive that she doesn’t feel safe around him nor does she trust him. David’s father is an abusive alcoholic who beat David as a kid, and his mother flat out abandoned him. It’s a wonder that more of the cast aren’t siding with the villain; At least Roland takes the initiative to try to kill David.
It’s hard to take the story or characters very seriously because there never seem to be consequences for anything. David transports himself all over the globe, occasionally causing damage. When David “jumps” sometimes he busts up the floors and walls generating lots of dust or water damage, and sometimes he doesn’t. David appears in a crowd of people in the middle of a large city and no one bats an eye. A new car is teleported out of a dealership. A house is demolished when half of it is transported into a river. Still, not one person ever seems affected by any of this. If all this random damage and confusion doesn’t matter to anyone in the movie, why should it matter to us?
I have to admit the premise of having people who are able to teleport at random and what kind of a person that might create is interesting. Why The Paladins think it’s such an abomination and an affront to God isn’t really addressed. They are bad guys for the sake of being bad guys. But then, the Jumpers we see in the movie are rather unscrupulous scoundrels. Is Jumper really about a band of government-sponsored heroes tracking down some international petty thieves and law breakers? It isn’t framed that way, but it certainly looks to be the case.
Jumper had some potential to be a decent story. It could have made some social commentary similar to that of X-Men or Spider-Man: the injustice of attacking those different from you or “with great power comes great responsibility.” But it didn’t. Jumper just shows us a vaguely interesting premise, some half-decent special effects, some uninteresting characters, and a story with a very weak plot. Is it worth seeing? Maybe, but I wouldn’t take the effort to seek out the movie yourself. The only reason I saw it was someone gave me their copy of the movie because they didn’t want it. That alone should tell you something about the film.
If you could have any one superpower (like teleporting anywhere in the world) what power would you want? What would you do with it? Comment below and tell me the whole story!