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“Jumper” is one hop, skip and a jump from being good.

Posted by goldwriting on February 16, 2008

Umm, what the hell is that in our fridge?!

There are times when the track record of a director can set the bar too high even for themselves to reach. This weekend brought the release of Jumper, which was helmed by Doug Liman (Swingers, Go, The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith). That is a hell of a wake of well thought out, well executed and well liked films and this is what Jumper wanted to tag itself onto. Unfortunately it falls directly to the bottom of the totem pole. Doug Liman now gets to rest comfortably in companionship with other directors like Joel Schumacher and John McTiernan who have brought us some amazing and amazingly terrible films.

Jumper boasts a talented cast of actors, but none of them get to rise to the level of previous works. Hayden Christensen (greatest work to date: Life as a House) starts out rough in the film leaning a tad bit too far on the emo scale. He does have an arc where he learns to care about someone more than himself, but it happens too fast and never gets truly explored. Rachel Bilson (greatest work to date: One Last Kiss) plays the small town crush that has grown up to be the too-cute-to-be-working-in-a-sports-bar bartender. She gets swept up by the mysterious Hayden when he returns into her life, but she flip-flops continuously through the film on whether to trust him or not. At one moment she buys into everything whole heartedly, the next she is demanding explanations. Jamie Bell (greatest work to date: Billy Elliot) grew up and bulked out for this role and definitely shows the most promise in the film, but again he is never allowed to fully explore or explain where his character is coming from. Also, note to future directors, if you are going to give someone expositional diologue to explain who the villains of the film are, don’t put those words into the mouth with the strongest accent in the film. The movie was mostly over before I heard someone else pronounce the name of the enemy in a way I could understand. Samuel L. Jackson (greatest work to date: Pulp Fiction) gets a role you love to hate in the religious zealot of Roland. He charges the part with a true sense of a one track mind, but his deeper issue is left off screen and therefore the audience doesn’t get to feel anything besides annoyance towards his mission. Diane Lane (greatest work to date: The Outsiders) gets completely misused in a small cameo role as Hayden’s disappearing mother. She gets a total of four minutes of screen time and rushes in and out like an audience member with a bladder problem.

The concept of the film is solid and served as the original reason why I wanted to see it in the first place. The special effects are also well done, but become almost a bit too common by the end of the film. The real downfall, the smack in the face from this movie, is its pretension that we will automatically want more. Many movies are left open for the possibility of a sequel, which is fine because every studio loves a franchise film, but the first movie has to be good enough to stand on its own and let the box office decide whether a second or third film is warranted. Jumper doesn’t seem to care what we think and plays itself out like the pilot episode of a long running series. Nothing is wrapped up, nothing is solved and some characters are just left completely hanging in midair without any explanation. I exited the theater not feeling like I had seen a well done sci-fi/action feature, rather a commercial free first episode to a Sci-Fi channel mini-series. The fact that this was left so open without even a shred of doubt that they want to make more is almost offensive to the viewing audience. Let us tell you whether we want more, let us decide if the story warrants continuing. That’s our job (that and funding the theaters with massive purchases of over-priced gourmet chocolates).

Maybe my hopes were too high, but the concept was strong and the director had my trust from previous works, but now the slate has been wiped clean. Next time, Liman, I go into your film with no expectations of greatness. Just open eyes and a pack of Rasinettes in my hand.

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One Response to ““Jumper” is one hop, skip and a jump from being good.”

  1. arabian culture

    Thanks for the nice read, keep up the interesting posts..

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