Andy Bockelman: Plot a long jump

'Jumper' struggles with story, lack of heroes


If only we could travel thousands of miles in seconds. We would be able to experience all the world had to offer effortlessly, but like the characters in the sci-fi drama "Jumper," we would probably just waste it.

Fifteen-year-old David Rice (Max Thieriot) has just experienced something very weird; trapped under the ice of a pond one moment and popping up in a library the next, he has had his first encounter with teleportation.

He is a Jumper, with the power to transport himself virtually anywhere. He quickly learns how to control this newly activated ability and flees from his distant father (Michael Rooker).

Before long, he has the idea to start robbing banks, and within eight years, David has grown into a well-traveled and wealthy man of the world (Hayden Christensen). His life of luxury takes a sharp turn when he is threatened by a mysterious man named Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), who knows more about him than he does himself.

He learns that is he not the only Jumper on the planet, and Roland is one of many Paladins, a group of agents dedicated to ridding the world of Jumpers.

Christensen's stoic façade is as hard to swallow as any of the actor's other stiff performances. He plays everything so pensively that it is impossible to like him.

Jackson is as high quality as ever, although slightly difficult to take seriously with a crop of hair that resembles a Q-Tip. Jamie Bell is effectively disillusioning as Griffin, a fellow Jumper who lives for fighting (and killing) Paladins.

Rachel Bilson of "The O.C." is quite lackluster as doe-eyed Millie, David's lifelong love, whom he inexplicably decides to reconnect with following his first meeting with Roland. At least she gets a respectable amount of screen time, unlike Diane Lane as David's little-seen Paladin mother, whose inclusion is practically meaningless.

Just like David's routine day - which includes surveying London from the face of Big Ben, surfing off the coast of Fiji and lunching atop the head of the Great Sphinx - there is too much of everything in this feature.

The plight of the Jumpers is meant to be cryptic to David, yet he picks up new terminology (such as "time scar") without any prompting. There is a plethora of ostentatious stunts, especially involving Griffin, who likes to teleport whole cars at his whim.

The most irksome point is that there is little indication as to whom we should empathize with between the Jumpers and Paladins; while Roland and his crew are ruthless in their tracking, David and Griffin are no saints.

The latter is borderline-psychotic, and the former is both lazy (sometimes jumping merely from one side of his couch to the other) and selfish (actively ignoring the suffering of foreign refugees on TV, knowing full well he could make a difference in their lives with a mere jump).

In short, there is no real hero to this story.

"Jumper" seems to pride itself on its own cleverness but does little more than create a third-rate version of the characterization we have seen in "X-Men," "Heroes" and plenty more.

See it if you must, but feel no need to jump to it.


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