Jumper (2008)

(In theaters, February 2008) Twice during this film, I thought I was hearing the opening strains of favorite songs, only to be disappointed with lame generic pop-rock. Much of the same holds true for Jumper as a film: Sometimes hinting at greatness, but constantly disappointing with lackluster execution. The premise itself is intriguing, setting up a young man with the power of teleportation, and then a larger mythology of “jumpers” and “paladins”. But little of it feels satisfying: In what I’m guessing is an effort to set up future sequels, few elements are developed, and whatever is explained doesn’t feel as if it fits together. (I’m thinking of genetic lines, mostly) But this mushiness also holds true on most other levels: Hayden Christiansen speaks with marbles in his mouth and his clumsy romantic scenes with Generic Girlfriend cause horrible flashbacks to Attack Of The Clones. Samuel L. Jackson is fabulous as usual, but the film doesn’t seem to understand what to do with him. The same also goes for the film’s dazzling variety of locations, which ultimately feels underwhelming and under-used: There are some poor plot choices for teleportation locations… heck, there are poor plot choices everywhere. (Remind me: Do they have to have seen the location they want to go to?) I’m still not convinced that director Doug Liman can tell a story cleanly without shaking his camera and overcutting his action scenes for no good reasons at all. There are some action scene here and there that should pop with kinetic excitement, but their cross-cutting silliness simply sucks away most of their energy. It doesn’t help that the script is so thin, and that it’s strangely empty of either fun or humor. I hope that some of the missing answers are in the book, but in the meantime the film is a disappointing example of wholly average entertainment. [One day later: Wow, the book is something else entirely.]

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