Sleek, busy, (sometimes) enjoyably goofy nonsense from director Doug Liman, "Jumper" opens with David Rice (played as a teen by Max Thieriot) giving a gift to classmate Millie (AnnaSophia Robb). When a bully tosses the gift onto an icy pond, David goes to retrieve it, then falls through the ice. While he - and everyone else who witnessed the fall - believes he's in trouble, he is surprised to find that he's suddenly teleported to the local library.
Leaving his small town life behind, David robs a bank to get some money and then moves on up in New York City. However, as he's gotten older (now played by Hayden Christensen) and more confident with his powers (he's used them to travel around the globe), he finds himself missing Millie (now played by Rachel Bilson) and heads back to Michigan to see if he can find her.
When the two finally meet, he offers her the trip to Rome she's always been dreaming of and he gets the kiss he'd always hoped for. While I can't say much for the performances by Bilson or Christensen, they do have a nice chemistry with one another (apparently the two started dating after the film.)
While David feels like he's on top of the world (and can jump to the top of the pyramids), he finds out from another jumper named Griffin (Jamie Bell) that he's in danger from Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), a rogue government agent who leads a group called the Paladins, who have dedicated themselves to wiping out all of the jumpers - a battle that has apparently been going on for centuries.
I haven't read the books on which the film is based, but have to wonder how compressed the material was to fit into 85 minutes (according to the commentary, the film is quite a bit different.) The script (by David S. Goyer and Jim Uhls) offers little in the way of story and less in the way of character development (the clunky dialogue is nothing to write home about, either.) There's also more plot holes than one might expect, even from a movie about dudes who teleport around the world. All of this is surprising, especially coming from two screenwriters that
Once the movie starts up the more action-oriented second half, what little character development and story there was pretty much goes out the window. It's shallow, slight material and while Liman certainly adds the required visual flash (and the varied locations around the globe are fun to see), the picture lacks soul and, given the thin story, starts to feel like it lacks a point.
The performances are a mixed bag, as while Christensen and Bilson generate decent chemistry, he's bland and while she's charming, she's stuck in a damsel-in-distress role. Robb and Thieriot, as the younger versions, actually offer more engaging performances in their very brief screen time. Jackson gets the most thankless role of all as a villain who's hardly much of a presence in the picture. Diane Lane also shows up for about two seconds, as well. Bell offers a fine performance as an unhinged fellow jumper.
The movie ends by teasing a second film that may or may not ever show up after the mixed reaction to this one. Overall, while Liman has shown his ability to direct stylish action scenes and manages to generate a few thrilling moments, but "Jumper" is largely empty calories.
VIDEO: "Jumper" is presented by 20th Century Fox in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. The screening copy of the film that was provided offered below average image quality, with acceptable sharpness/detail, but a considerable amount of artifacting at times. However, this is still not the retail copy and the final copy will hopefully offer better image quality.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 & DTS 5.1. The film's sound mix isn't particularly dazzling, but it does certainly provide some thrills during the action sequences, where the surrounds flare up with various effects and whatnot when the characters jump. Audio quality was fine, with crisp effects and clear dialogue. I was expecting the sci-fi film's audio to be at least moderately more aggressive.
EXTRAS: Director Doug Liman is joined by producers Simon Kinsburg and Lucas Foster for a commentary track. "Doug Liman's Jumper: Uncensored" is a 35-minute "making of" documentary that follows the cast and crew on location around the world, as well as into some of the sets constructed. While this piece isn't particularly in-depth, there's some nifty behind-the-scenes footage and some amusing interviews. The globetrotting aspect of the production is also discussed in the 10-minute, "Jumping Around the World", where Liman and crew chat about the challenges of having to film across the globe.
"Making an Actor Jump" is a 7-minute look at the effects work used to make the jump sequences. The featurette offers some interesting looks at the tests done and the early concepts for the jump effects. We also get "Jumping From Novel to Film", which visits with Liman and the author of the book to discuss the film adaptation. Finally, we get 6 deleted scenes, pre-viz storyboard sequences and promos for other Fox titles.
Final Thoughts: "Jumper" manages some thrills thanks to Liman's skills, but the picture suffers from a thin, seemingly rushed script that goes light on character development and never develops the nifty idea to its full potential. Rent it.
The Film C