REVIEW of JUMPER—Anywhere Is Possible
I liked Jumper so much that I wish I could be the chump who could jump right into (what I assume will be) the sequel. Do I really have to wait?
David Rice (Hayden Christensen) discovers he has latent powers to teleport any place he visualizes. His initial reaction is to escape from a stifling home environment, school bullies, and poverty. In no time at all he beams himself in and out of bank vaults and scores big money, a penthouse suite, and global access. And just when he thinks he has it made, sitting on top of the world (or, at least, the Egyptian sphinx), along comes Roland (Samuel Jackson)—a "Paladin" committed to ridding the Earth of "jumpers"—as well as Griffin (Jamie Bell), a firebrand jumper equally committed to resisting and defeating the Paladins. Add luscious girlfriend Millie (Rachel Bilson) and an absent and enigmatic mother (Diane Lane, in a charismatic performance that bears no trace of Untraceable), plus locations in New York, Rome, Tokyo and Egypt, and kick-ass jumping effects and you have all the markings of an entertaining action sci-fi thriller.
But wait, there's more! This film is enrichened by believable character arcs that the sequel can only serve to deepen. Christensen plays his bruised soul to perfection. Yes, it's a superhero cliché that with great power comes great responsibility, something every young superhero needs to learn, but it's genuinely engaging watching Rice mature from a self-serving teenager to a young man giving thought to using his powers to help others. You truly sense that hiding his secret and living alone with so much power, even if it secures him material wealth, simply is not enough. The chemistry between Christensen and Bilson is sweet and sexy, which—linked to the film's opening on Valentines Day—reminds that Jumper is basically a love story about two people learning how much they can really reveal and share with each other. I imagine it will be the perfect date movie.
There are also solid veins of inquiry. As Rice learns that his gift has passed down through generations for millennia and that—like it or not—he is caught up in something of an ongoing holy war; Griffin guides him to make the historical connections between the Paladins and the Catholic Inquisition. The Magisterium's ageold dispute against divine immanence takes a pop cult turn in Roland's zeal to destroy anyone who possesses the power of God to move at will. Roland is not just a basic bad guy cut from dark broadcloth, however; Jackson exhibits genuine concern that the power bestowed upon jumpers inevitably drives them to madness and evil. One senses feral Griffin leaning that way. And one can only wonder if Rice's protestations that he's "different" will be borne out? I sure would like to know right now. Where's a worm hole when you need one?
Cross-published on The Evening Class.