Jumper

“Does this movie make any sense?”
★★
☆☆☆
Released: 
2008
Director: 
Doug Liman
Starring: 
Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Bell, Rachel Bilson
The Setup: 
Guy inexplicably has the ability to teleport. Others are against him for no reason.
Discussion: 

There is little that can up your enjoyment of a terrible film like seeing it on an airplane. Having sat unbored through the execrable Mad Money on the way out to Seattle, I was actually looking forward to seeing this on the way home, knowing it was coming by having of course perused my Hemispheres free in-fight magazine on the trip out. I also had a quite mild desire to see it when it was in theaters.

Okay, so we begin with baby Darth Vader Hayden Christenson atop the pyramids, saying “Once I was a normal person, a chump, just like you.” That’s what I like, a movie that insults its audience right off the bat. Turns out Hayden [his character is David] was only a chump until he was 15, when he presented high school sweetheart Millie with a snowglobe. The local bully takes it and throws it out onto the frozen river, and when Hayden goes out to retrieve it, he falls in. It’s looking all Omen II for him, when suddenly he finds himself in the local library, which is when I discovered that all of this is taking place in Ann Arbor, where I lived from the ages of 18-30. Hayden’s mother abandoned the family at five, and his father is a jerk, so he runs away, by bus [when you can teleport in style?] to NYC, where he soon uses his abilities to rob a bank. When next we see him, he’s in his 20s and living in a swank apartment in New York, where he uses his abilities to even do such small things as reach a DVD cover that is a foot out of reach. Amazingly, for as physically lazy as he apparently is, he’s quite fit.

In here we are also introduced to Samuel Jackson as Roland, who is a Paladin, a group of people who hunt and kill Jumpers [as the teleportees are known] because they are “religious zealots” who believe that “Only God should have that power.” Sound like a flimsy excuse for a villain? Just asking.

For no specific reason, Hayden suddenly gets a jones to see his old high school sweetheart. I say move on with your life, Hayden, there are plenty of other fish in the sea, but he’s been established as somewhat of softie, who stupidly leaves handwritten IOU’s at the banks he steals from. Now, is he ever REALLY going to pay that money back? Anyway, he goes back to Ann Arbor and finds Millie working as a waitress. She has grown up to quite a hottie in the Avril Lavigne mold, all tight tanks and eye liner. Also there is the town bully, and they get in a fight before Hayden teleports him somewhere and satisfyingly freaks him way the hell out. Then he’s back and offers Millie a spontaneous trip to Rome, where she’s always wanted to go, and she says sure.

So they go to Rome—by airplane! Poor Hayden, that must have been a pain. Millie knows Hayden is lying about where all his money comes from, but is okay with a don’t ask, don’t tell policy. So after a few days they end up at the Coliseum, which has been Millie’s “Number One” sight to see for ever [since that first magical viewing of Gladiator, perhaps?]. However, despite it being her top priority, they have wasted a few days in Rome before getting around to it, and arrive precisely at closing time. Hayden uses his powers to get her in after hours, whereupon he happens upon another Jumper, who warns him about a coming Paladin attack, which arrives post haste. Hayden is all stupid and getting zapped [the Paladins use these super tazers which supposedly inhibits a Jumper's ability to jump], while the other Jumper is doing the only sensible thing, and appearing behind one of the Paladins long enough to bash them with a baseball bat. Anyway, Hayden gets arrested, and various authorities, of both real and shadowy supernatural government agencies, are on his tail.

Around this time my traveling companion, who had been watching the movie as well, leaned over to me and said “Does this movie make any sense at all?” To which I had to reply that no, it did not. It’s just this arbitrary conceit with these arbitrary rules [never fully articulated], for the sole purpose of staging fights and chases that range across numerous locations. These fights and chases are, however, pretty darn cool, once you get past the whole this-is-the-stupidest-thing-ever-set-to-celluloid barrier, and if you have elected to enhance your viewing through one of the many forms of available mind-altering substances, now is when you really want to let that shit fly, because here’s where the movie becomes a bit of a pip in spite of itself.

SPOILERS > > >
So turns out that Jackson and his Paladin cru are going to kill everyone Hayden cares about in order to get to him, which they demonstrate without harm to Hayden by killing his dad. Hayden has eight hours to kill Roland before Millie’s plane back from Rome—alone—lands, which I thought was an okay excuse to give us a tight time frame, although the filmmakers blow it off almost immediately. Hayden suggests that he and Griffin, the other Jumper, team up, and after a while they do. Hayden goes to Millie’s apartment, where Roland is in the process of sneaking into, and jumps with her to the jumper hideout. BUT! Roland has a special machine that “detects recently-opened wormholes,” and allows him to jump there, too! This leads to the first of a few of the cool fights that range throughout a bunch of locations around the world. Griffin also has the ability to jump with objects, so at one point Roland finds himself atop Mount Everest with a London double-decker bus suddenly bearing down on him from the sky. It’s all amusingly cool, but you WILL have time to ask yourself why none of these idiotic jumpers don’t simply buy a GUN, appear behind the Paladin, and clock them. I suppose somewhere on the DVD there’s a bit about how despite the fights, public-threatening crashes, stabbing and electro-torture, they wanted to send a strong anti gun violence message.

For a rather cool finish, Hayden, who appears to be enmeshed in Rolands super-snare, relocates Millie’s entire apartment into a river, and then into the Ann Arbor public library. He leaves Roland in a cave on a sheer cliff face.

There’s a short coda, useful only in setting up a sequel [which I thought was ludicrous, until I read today that two sequels have been approved] in which we find out that Hayden’s mother is a Paladin, and is going to come hunting for him at some point. Millie has fully adjusted to the jumper lifestyle and is just chillin’ with her man. The end.
< < < SPOILERS END

It’s delightfully senseless, and doesn’t even stick to the rules it establishes [when it makes the effort to establish rules, which isn’t often], but all of this is trumped by the fact that those multi-location fights and chases are pretty cool. The kindest review I can give it is that if it were on cable [and I HAD cable] I would probably watch the last half again.

Should you watch it: 

I can’t really say you should expend any effort to seek it out, but if it’s on cable you could do worse than to sit through the second half.