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Jumper

dir: Doug Liman
[img_assist|nid=45|title=I know I can't act, so is it okay if I just stand over here and pout?|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=475|height=266]
And I thought this was going to be a movie about someone’s woolly pullover.

No, a jumper is a person with the innate ability to teleport around. David Rice, our main character, teleports around. He discovers he can do this at around age 15, and abandons all semblance of a normal life.

Since he lives outside the bounds of regular society (he abandons his surly father, and their small hick town of Ann Arbour, Michigan), he also freezes at this point in his intellectual and emotional development.

Eight years pass, and now David is played by Hayden Christensen, arguably one of the greatest and hardest working actors of his generation.

No, wait, I meant to say he’s a terrible, woeful actor, so – so - terrible that he is almost a joy to watch. Almost.

The greatest, most awesome aspect is that Christensen isn’t even the worst actor in the movie. The love interest is so fucking awful that she actually makes Christensen look less terrible.

Goddamn is she godawful. If no-one stopped her, I can imagine she would have started and ended every sentence of dialogue with, “like… you know, dude” as if she was a hippie chick from a 1960s Roger Corman biker pic. Oh good gods was she terrible.

She literally has scenes where you are actually wondering whether she’s trying to remember what film she’s in, who she is, what she’s meant to be saying, and why all these people with film equipment are standing around her. “Like, totally, what’s going on, like really?”

I’m sure Rachel Bilson is some kind of supergenius, and was probably class valedictorian and class dux and all that, but based on the evidence supplied here, it is unlikely she knows how to tie a shoelace or why you shouldn’t drop a toaster in a bathtub full of water if you're sitting in it. She gives stupid a bad name.

She and Christensen compete to give the worst line readings, and she usually wins. Their childhood star-crossed lovers relationship is less convincing than that between crazy homeless people and reality. It’s less credible than Judy Garland’s daughter's marriage to that clearly gay man. What was their names… oh yeah, Liza Minnelli and Liberace.

David the Jumper, as they call themselves, I guess, is a selfish, isolated brat. Because he can simply steal everything he could possibly want, he has no notion of working to do anything past satisfying his desires for instant gratification. Whilst watching a news report about people about to die during a Hurricane Katrina-type situation, it’s implied that he could be the only one who could save some of these people with his power. But he switches the telly off, because that’s not his bag. A quick jaunt to London for some bar-trawling, quick shag with a British slag, then he’s off for some surf in 30 foot swell before returning home.

He lives an unstructured, unencumbered life empty of meaning or significance apart from wanting something, getting that something, and moving on. Most importantly, there’s no-one to tell him what to do, or to get a job, or to mow the lawn. No parents!

Clearly, it’s a teenager’s wet dream.

Problem is, someone knows about his abilities, and works for an organisation dedicated to eradicating the scourge of bank security and investor confidence that are jumpers.

Roland (Samuel L. Jackson) works for the Paladins, who, throughout history, have hunted down and killed jumpers for their unholy abilities. He, when confronting Anakin, sorry, I mean David, uses religious terms to define what he does. It’s clearly implied that the Paladins kill jumpers because they believe only God should have the ability to be anywhere all at once.

Omnipresence, I think it’s called. The truth is, because of the way the story is aimed (it started life as a book aimed at teenagers) and structured, the real purpose of the Paladins is to be the ultimate authority/parental killjoy figure. They go after jumpers because clearly jumpers are having way too much fun. And parents, being perpetual scolds and fun-stoppers, can’t stand it when the younger generations have too much fun. They’re probably way jealous, too.

This is made even more explicit with a revelation (I guess you could call it a twist, if you were as simple-minded as the two moron lead characters, locked as they are in the embrace of retarded love) as to one of David’s parents. It made me groan laughingly, or laugh groaningly, take your pick.

Roland wants to kill David and everyone close to David. David, uh, doesn’t want David and everyone close to David killed. He does want to start up a relationship with the girl he used to know in high school, and, to impress her, takes her to Rome on a lark.

The funniest thing for me is that despite exchanging barely any dialogue with Millie (Bilson), the apparent love of his life, once he reappears in his hick town (which is anything but, if you know anything about Ann Arbour) she has sex with him moments after they get to Rome, which was ten hours after they met up in the bar where she works. Is that the new standard in order to get chicks to sleep with you without having to do any groundwork; a flight to Rome? Damn, the bar has certainly been raised. I remember when it used to be just a few hour’s worth of beer or cocktails.

That’s how long I’ve been out of the dating scene. I’m just not down with The Kids anymore.

Interspersed throughout all of this are scenes where David is jumping all over the world within seconds, going from the top of the Sphinx’s head to the streets of Tokyo and the Chrysler Building in New York, all without raising a sweat. But the Paladins have ways of fighting and controlling jumpers, and it makes for some pretty impressive action scenes, even if they’re edited a bit spastically.

David is not alone in his battle with the Paladins. Another jumper, Griffin (Jaime Bell, whose biggest role to date was in Billy Elliot), who has been watching David, probably not in a gay stalker way, wants to bring the fight to the Paladins, especially to Roland. Past run-ins have left him with a murderous hatred of the Paladins in general and Roland specifically. He has a plan to take out the Paladins, but, in the only moment that indicates David is capable of growing up as an individual, despite the constant evidence of how sociopathically maladjusted he really is, David and Griffin disagree strongly and in the way you’d expect two jumpers would, leading to some amazing visuals.

Griffin also shines during a fight with two Paladins at the Colosseum where the nature of what he can do is used to good effect against two nasty fuckers with technology on their side. I very much liked the way Griffin tears shit up jumper-style.

In fact, Griffin’s presence alone really improves the flick more than it deserves. He brings a manic, anarchic energy to the production, which is more in line with the anarchic nature of the story than the stilted and wooden lead performances. Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t exactly strain himself, although he does have quite an entertaining white wig on his head.

The thing is, and rare are the times where I can say this without being drunk, I very much enjoyed this flick. Terrible acting performances aside, the premise is just so novel and the implementation of the jumping ability in countless geographic locations looked fantastic and kept me entertained far more than it should have. The ability of the protagonists leads to some pretty impressive visuals and inspired moments, even if the script and the dialogue aren’t going to win any prizes anywhere apart from at the prestigious Razzie awards.

Moments, I refer to, mere moments. Just because I enjoyed watching it doesn’t mean I’m under the delusion that it’s a decent film. The absurdity of the premise, the gaping plotholes, the adolescent patina that covers everything, the woeful acting all drag down what is, for me, a brief guilty pleasure. At 80 or so minutes, the badness isn’t on display long enough to outstay its welcome, and scenes can shift so quickly that boredom never really set in for me.

I don’t doubt that there will be a sequel or two, and I doubt strongly that the sequels will be anywhere near as entertaining (for me), or any less dumb. Christensen is such a terrible actor but so appropriate for roles where the main character is a stunted and immature dickhead that he should continue getting work long after the memory of his laughable performance here has faded. A sequel could give his character something more interesting to do: he’s got room to grow, but I can see it becoming something of an insane fiasco if they go the way that is implied by the ending of this flick.

In the immortal words of soon to be former President George W. Bush, Bring It On.

6 times I wouldn’t be using this ability, if I possessed it, to stock up on jet skis and sporting goods out of 10

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“You think it could go on like this forever? Living like this with no consequences? There are always consequences!” – especially at the box office, Jumper.

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