Movie News & Reviews

'Jumper' hardly leaps

"Jumper" is one lazy superhero movie, lazy in the sense that the superhero in question barely does anything super or heroic. Sure, he can close his eyes and physically zip himself to another part of the planet, but so can that Japanese guy from "Heroes" -- and he knows when you have a power that phenomenal, you immediately start using it to save the world.

David Rice, played by young Darth Vader himself, Hayden Christensen, uses it to rob banks and live a Bret Easton Ellis-type of life in New York. A former Ann Arbor outcast who learns of his abilities after nearly drowning in a frozen pond as a teen, he now spends his days teleporting the globe, bedding down lasses in London, riding the waves in Fiji, sitting on top of the Sphinx eating a burrito -- ah, the good life!

The heat starts closing in on him when a team of jumper-eradicating "paladins," led by a preposterously white-haired Samuel L. Jackson (whose seething nature throughout this thing almost makes me think that Mace Windu still has a grudge against ol' Anakin for betraying him in the last "Star Wars" movie), look to take him out. So, with a group of mysterious men out to kill him, where does he go? He goes back home, to woo his high-school crush (Rachel Bilson, bringing more bottom lip-biting coquettishness than a Marisa Tomei movie marathon) by taking her to Rome -- by plane, of course -- and accidentally getting her in the middle of all of this.

Now that the girl-in-peril is in play, it's time for our boy to spring into action. He proposes a "Marvel Team-Up" with Jamie Bell's more advanced (and more interesting) rogue jumper, yet our hero possesses all the noble, selfless traits of a preppy frat boy. In fact, he's something of a self-absorbed idiot. In one scene, he gazes over at the TV in his apartment and sees a killer flood engulfing a Third World country. Does dude use his teleporting powers to save any of those people? Nope. In Steven Gould's 1992 novel, which the movie is based on, Rice eventually wakes up and uses his powers to foil hijackers around the world. But I guess his crime-fighting endeavors will come in the already-proposed sequels, which the movie oh-so-casually sets up in the climax.

But "Jumper" seems less like the start of an action/sci-fi-movie franchise and more like a TV pilot for a show that'll probably end up as a midseason replacement on Fox next year. Director Doug Liman certainly burns up his budget shooting in enough glorious, foreign locales to fill an IMAX movie. (In one scene, Christensen and Bell engage in a global foot chase that looks more like a money-hemorrhaging rehash of the Cameron Diaz-Catherine Keener cranial mad dash in "Being John Malkovich.")

However, the tired, brain-numbing script, all piled together by "Fight Club" scripter Jim Uhls and comic-book movie scribes David S. Goyer ("Blade," the upcoming "The Dark Knight") & Simon Kinberg ("X-Men: The Last Stand"), fails to come up with anything remotely, refreshingly thrilling for the characters to do in these locales. By the time most of the cast members find themselves bouncing back-and-forth for most of the third act, you may feel like quantum-leaping yourself out of the whole experience altogether.

Liman recently noted that "Jumper" completes his "sellout trilogy." Still, his two previous blockbuster films, the great "The Bourne Identity" and the successful (at times) "Mr. and Mrs. Smith" showed that Liman is a much more effective, inventive helmer of studio pictures than even he gives himself credit for. Those films were fun and exciting. "Jumper" is neither.

It's when he has the right material that the man shines, and "Jumper" doesn't shine for no dang body.