2008, PG-13, 90 min. Directed by Doug Liman. Starring Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Diane Lane, Jamie Bell, Rachel Bilson, Michael Rooker, Tom Hulce, Kristen Stewart.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Feb. 15, 2008
Based on the 2002 young-adult novel by Stephen Gould, Jumper, the first film in a planned trilogy, asks the double loaded questions, "What would a young teen male do if he suddenly discovered the ability to teleport?" and, "What's Hayden Christensen done for us lately, other than the cinematic sleep-aid Awake?" The answer to both questions is, of course, "not much," but at least in the first instance you get a snappy teen travelogue through the Valley of the Kings, Tokyo, the sand drifts of the Sahara (or perhaps Tatooine?), and upscale New York loftage, not to mention a whole bunch of Rome's Colosseum. Christensen, who's never really recovered from his woefully vanilla reading of the strapping young Sith lord-cum-Tiger Beat pinup, here gets to keep a girl, although not the girl (and not at the Hotel Chevalier, sadly), and beam his molecules all over the globe without ending up like Jeff Goldblum in The Fly. Actually, taken at face value, Jumper is pretty slick, entertaining stuff, well-crafted by Liman; edited into a tight, action-packed bundle of nerviness by Saar Klein (The Bourne Identity); and scripted with not a little Marvel Universality by David S. Goyer (the Blade series and the upcoming X-Men spin-off, Magneto). Abandoned by his mother at age 5 and saddled with a drunk, abusive pop (Rooker), David Rice (Christensen) learns – at an appropriately life-and-death high school moment, natch – that he possesses the coolest of all possible superpowers. He promptly blows town to shack up in some ultrastylish New York City pad while spending his off-hours teleporting to surf-and-snowboarding hotspots when not otherwise engaged in robbing banks and wallowing in stacks of mad loot and intercontinental supa-booty. It's not a bad life, either, until Roland (Jackson) shows up to get medieval on his ass – literally as it turns out. Roland is a member of an ancient, quasi-religious faction known as the Paladins, who are sworn to slay – by evisceration! – Jumpers everywhere and everywhen. Yes, there are more of these whiz kids roaming the earth, not the least of which is Scots-burring Griffin (Bell, from Billy Elliot), a black-leather-jacketed daredevil with a savage, righteous edge. Liman has previously worked on The OC and therefore pretty much knows his way around the teen psyche without aid of a map, and he acquits himself more or less admirably here. The whole production does reek a bit of origin story filminess, but even so, it's light sabers beyond Christensen's sad, revengeful fate in Episode III and does offer a nice view of the top of the sphinx's head no less than three times.