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Review

Weak plot makes fast-paced ‘Jumper’ hard to follow

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February 21, 2008

I have to give credit to “Jumper” in one aspect of its storytelling. A sci-fi tale about people who can teleport anywhere on a moment’s notice, “Jumper” nails the fact that if most individuals had this power, they’d probably use it for such superficial reasons as getting revenge on bullies and robbing banks blind. Why fight crime when swiping some cash for yourself undetected is a breeze? 

  Unfortunately, “Jumper” is comprised of just a handful of moments like this, not quite enough to lift the flick beyond being a diverting but ultimately confounding feature.

  As a teenager, David Rice (Hayden Christensen), in yet another “Mannequin Skywalker” turn) discovered that he had an unusual gift. Just by picturing a location in his mind, he found himself able to teleport (or “jump”) there in an instant.

  Many years and many pilfered banks later, David leads a pretty cushy life of jet-setting across the globe whenever he damn well pleases. But his world becomes a lot less safe once a secret society, led by the silver-haired Roland (Samuel L. Jackson, in a surprisingly ho-hum performance), catches up to him, an organization hell-bent on putting an end to all jumpers the world over.

  Narrowly escaping imminent doom, David sets about fighting back against those determined to hunt him down, teaming up with a fellow jumper (Jamie Bell) to combat them not just to save their own skins, but also that of David’s childhood sweetie (Rachel Bilson).

  Just because a movie’s about people who go all over the map in an instant, that doesn’t give the plot permission to do the same. Such is the case with “Jumper,” which changes tones and scenes so fast you’re likely to be diagnosed with whiplash by the time the credits roll.

  This is one of those movies that realized it only had about a half-hour’s worth of plot, so it filled the remaining hour of running time with a whole lot of noise and a ton of special effects. 

  This is all well and good, for as brutal on the eyes as it sounds, the constant jumping scenes are actually pretty cool. 

  The teleporting surprisingly never gets tiring, especially in action sequences when stuff like a double-decker bus go hurtling through a desert.

  But I just wish that “Jumper” had been a little more adept at handling these scenes. On their own, they’re nice and entertaining, but the way the film jostles you around from tone to tone and subplot to subplot, you get the feeling that it’s not so much one movie as it is three or four of them scrambling for your attention all at once.

  When it comes to putting on a show more for the eyes than for the brain, “Jumper” certainly gets the job done. There’s enough going on so that the film never really lags, although the flick’s fast-paced nature may frequently make you want to slap it just so it’ll settle down.

A.J. Hakari is a student at UW-River Falls.