Judge David Johnson jumps! (Down on Jump Street.)
Our review of Jumper, published June 10th, 2008, is also available.
From Doug Liman, director of The Bourne Identity an adventure that somehow makes superhero teleportation boring.
Facts of the Case
David Rice (Hayden Christensen, Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith) grew up as an inconsequential little goober, picked on by classmates and largely ignored by the love of his life. One day that all changes, when a near-death experience leads David to the discovery of an incredible power: he can teleport around the globe at will. This nifty parlor trick is referred to as "jumping" and David has crafted a comfortable life of casual sex, surfing and bank robbery thanks to this talent.
Turns out he's not alone. He meets a fellow Jumper, a guy named Griffin (Jamie King, King Kong) who informs David that there's a war going on and Jumpers worldwide are being hunted by a deranged group called the Paladins, led by a white-haired bastard (Samuel L. Jackson) who stabs people to death. David finds himself sucked into the conflict when his gal pal is put into play, and with Paladins out gunning for him, it will take all of his zapping prowess to emerge victorious.
A missed opportunity, this. Having a power to teleport all over the place? Cool. A sinister cabal of wackos that kill these people with teleportation powers? Potential for cool. Samuel L. Jackson? Overexposed, perhaps, but cool? Absolutely. But somewhere along the way, Jumper jumped off the rails and flew straight into the Canyon of Forgettable Action Movies. And there's no getting out of that lamentable pit.
I lay much of the blame on the romance angle. The relationship between David and his girlfriend (Rachel Bilson) is a huge plot device and, in fact, the entire final third of the film rotates around the concept that these two are cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs, leading David to do some crazy, risky things and, most importantly, chase around Griffin in the film's Jumper vs. Jumper action centerpiece, which, while visually cool, appears to exist solely because someone wanted to put these two guys blasting through wormholes into the movie. Alas, the bedrock on which these scenes and, essentially the whole of David's anti-Paladin actions, rests is said relationship and the simple fact is I didn't buy it. Maybe it was Christensen and Bilson's lack of onscreen chemistry or the half-baked writing used to display their emotional bond (when they were kids, she didn't treat him like crap; she would later go with him to Rome on a moment's whim; they knocked boots; lots of googly-eyes, etc.) but I wasn't sold and all the crap that David undertook henceforth held little dramatic weight.
Then there's the whole Jumper vs. Paladin thing, which is hugely lame. All we get for a backstory is that these guys were at each other's throats since the Medieval times and that Paladins are convinced that "only God should have the power to be in all places" or something and hey pal, pass the knife so I can stab this fool! Tied to this nonsensical conceit is a pointless plot arc about David's mother (Diane Lane, completely wasted here).
The film was disappointing, but the Blu-ray is not. The video quality is very strong, the 2.35:1 HD transfer looking significantly better than standard DVD resolution. There are many locations featured in the movie—Egypt, Japan, Italy, the Grand Canyon—and this variety in setting allows the format to work its magic; these places look awesome. Color levels and detailing are equally impressive, particularly the "jump" scenes, which, as silly as the ideas behind them turned out to be, are a sight to behold. The DTS 5.1 Master track is loud and aggressive, with plenty of bass woven into John Powell's lively score to keep the aural experience rollicking.
As fantastic as the technical experience is, Fox should be most congratulated for the weighty amount of extras the studio included: an insightful audio commentary from Doug Liman, featurettes about the visual effects and the novel-to-film translation, a candid documentary, deleted scenes, a virtual graphic novel, a pre-visualization gallery and, the highlight, a picture-in-picture behind-the-scenes feature that launches during the film (note: to access this feature, you'll need a Blu-ray player with an updated profile). There's a lot of good stuff here, and if you so desire, all your wildest fantasies about seeing how Jumper was created, will come true.
The Rebuttal Witnesses
One thing I was struck by, revealed in an accompanying interview with Liman, was his process of adapting books to movies and how that entailed discarding the book and creating a whole new story based loosely on the characters. I never read the Jumper books, though friends that have expressed their disappointment in this feature film iteration. Liman did the same thing with The Bourne Identity, and while he got lucky with that revisionism (though I was disappointed in how the series wrapped itself, based on the groundwork he laid), I think he likely struck out this go-round.
Moments of interesting action can't compensate for a goofy premise and some stilted acting. The Blu-ray disc rocks, though.
Guilty. Go BAMF yourself.
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