In the rundown of superpowers, I'd have to put teleportation way up there on the list, right above the power of flight and just below the ability to have a million dollars.
The bank robbing and not having to wade through airport security would be sweet enough. On top of that, because you wouldn't have to take them to the same restaurant, you could go out on a date with two women on the same night and actually get away with it. Or say you wanted to see the surface of the Moon -- at least, for the few seconds you could see before all the blood vessels in your eyes burst. Me, I would practice throwing a pair of pants across the room, then teleporting into them before they hit the ground. Show a girl that trick and she'd be tearing them off you so fast you'd swear she could teleport, too.
I remember thinking about this a lot after reading Jumper many years ago. I remember the book being pretty great, too, but this is from the same 12-year-old's brain that thought Ace of Bass laid down some serious beats, so trusting its judgment is always a gamble. Despite that, and despite the fact Jumper the movie looked like a radical departure from my hazy memory of the book, I was looking forward to seeing what it had to offer.
Back when he was 15, an accident dropped Hayden Christensen into a frozen-over river. He should have died. Instead, he learned he could teleport.
Within seconds of movie-time, he's jumping into bank vaults, gallivanting around the world, and generally living large for the next eight years. His activities catch the attention of Samuel L. Jackson, however, an agent of a shadowy group that considers the powers of jumpers to be an abomination unto the Lord.
Chased back to his home town, where everyone still thinks he's dead, Christensen looks up Rachel Bilson, the girl he's been in love with for years. She's either unbelievably cool or incredibly stupid, because not only is she not at all amazed to see him, but she also agrees to go with him to Rome at the drop of a hat. Good times. Further powers-abuse once again draws Jackson's steely eye, though, leading to a globetrotting battle that's not a fraction as cool as the words "globetrotting battle" imply.
Jumper's main problem is that it's -- how do I say this without sounding like a chump -- choppy. The story leaps around a lot, and OK, it's a movie about dudes who can teleport, so a certain amount of that's expected.
Characters and their doings are picked up on a whim and dropped just as suddenly, often never to be seen again. Director Doug Liman keeps a mushy grasp on the movie's passage of both space and time, piling confusion onto a plot that seems hellbent on racing forward as quickly as possible without letting us get to know Christensen, Bilson, or the history of either the jumpers or the group that would seek to destroy them.
This lack of personality is also because, how do you say, the writing is not very good. Christensen gets some shyness and vulnerability into his superpowered character, and Jamie Bell, a jumper ally, digs up some offbeat humor. Yet they're not immune to the blunt, clunky dialogue, either, where people either say exactly what they're thinking or halt meaningfully after ever sentence, as if that's supposed to say what they can't. Liman's Pregnant Pause Party doesn't create any depth when everyone's motivations are so ethereal or singleminded that I wouldn't have been surprised if everyone had turned to the camera at the end of the film and stripped off their faces to reveal they were all robots all along.
You know what, the jumping effects are pretty cool, though, and the movie does get into the wish-fulfillment side of jumping just enough to where you can imagine how fun and magical a competent movie could have made it feel.
Most of the time I like when movies dive right into the action and trust we'll catch up eventually. But how can you get sucked in in the first place when Christensen doesn't even seem surprised that he's essentially a superhero? By skipping past any sense of wonder or progression in his powers, Jumper robs itself of the most interesting part of its concept. By making its characters flat as a floor and its story as gray and tangled as a dustbunny, we're just biding our time until it's over.