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Jumper

Samuel L Jackson in Jumper

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Audio Commentary By Director Doug Liman, Writer/Producer Simon Kinberg and Producer Lucas Foster; Jumping From Novel To Film: The Past, Present & Future of Jumper Featurette; Making An Actor Jump Featurette; Doug Liman’s Jumper: Exposed Featurette; Jumping Around The World Featurette; Animated Graphic Novel; Previz: Future Concepts; Deleted Scenes; Inadvertent Jumps; Alternate Roland Introduction; Tokyo And The Machine; David Hides From Roland; Taxi To Airport – Rome; Epilogue War.

DOUG Liman has an enviable track record of turning tricky concepts into effortless crowd-pleasers. Few could have predicted, for instance, that The Bourne Identity would become the action phenomenon it did when Matt Damon was first announced as an amnesia-ridden assassin, while the concept of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt playing husband and wife hitmen who did not know each other’s identities [Mr & Mrs Smith] sounded a little shaky.

His latest, Jumper, finds him tackling the idea of jumpers – human beings who possess the ability to teleport anywhere in the world as soon as they imagine it. Sadly, it proves a leap too far. The film is fun while it lasts and boasts some typically impressive set pieces but it’s also a curiously under-developed affair that leaves too many questions unanswered and ends on a completely under-whelming note.

David Rice (Hayden Christensen) is a young man who suddenly discovers he has the ability to jump while trying to impress his high school sweetheart Millie (Rachel Bilson). Hence, his life becomes one long holiday as he robs banks with glee and sets about globetrotting whenever the mood takes him.

But when his whereabouts is discovered by a secret organisation – led by a man named Roland (Samuel L Jackson) – who exist to kill jumpers, David finds himself in a desperate battle for survival and eventually calls on the help of renegade jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell) to fight back.

Based on the popular novels by Steven Gould, Jumper begins brightly enough with a quick flashback to David’s first experience of jumping and then wastes no time in setting up the main thrust of the story. It then jumps around the globe at breakneck speed as David attempts to stay one step ahead of Roland, while keeping Millie safe and unaware of his true powers.

But just as audiences are beginning to take to the concept and get into the world that Liman creates so vividly, the film seems to jump off the tracks and ends abruptly without much explanation or even logic. It’s also vastly different from Gould’s darker source material, both in terms of concept and character development.

Perhaps most infuriating, however, is that very little attempt is made to explain what jumping is or how the powers are either inherited or gained, while a back-story involving David’s mother (played by a criminally under-used Diane Lane) feels half-hearted and pointless.

The fate of certain key characters is also left unclear, possibly with a view to creating a franchise. But as things stand, it feels more like the director ran out of time and has only delivered a half finished product (don’t bet against a fuller director’s cut in years to come).

Of the cast, Hayden Christensen once again seems to be struggling with a role that places effects and action sequences above characterisation (as he did in the Star Wars movies) and Rachel Bilson’s love interest is under-developed and expected to blindly follow David without any real explanation.

Jackson is typically charismatic in a role that doesn’t stretch him whatsoever, which leaves Jamie Bell to save the day as a rogue jumper who injects some genuine excitement whenever he is around.

Liman’s use of location is also impressive, particularly during the Rome segment, and goes some way to papering over the cracks during the film’s engaging middle section.

But given the unsatisfying nature of its conclusion, audiences can’t help but feel short-changed and a little disappointed. For all its flashy endeavour and pre-release hype as “Bourne meets The Matrix” audiences are expected to make too big a leap of faith.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 88mins
UK DVD Release Date: June 16, 2008