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Movies Review

Jumper

By
Jumper
Director: Doug Liman
Screenwriters: David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls
Starring: Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson, Jamie Bell, Samuel L. Jackson
Running time: 88 mins
Certificate: 12A

Fans of Alan Partridge may remember the fictional chatshow host begging his BBC boss Tony Hayers for a second series, even going to the extraordinary lengths of attacking him with a lump of cheese. This overt desperation for another outing is strongly echoed throughout Jumper, which shamelessly pleads for the chance to be given a franchise. Fortunately, courtesy of some very slick storytelling, taut direction and appealing performances, Doug Liman's film functions as an enjoyable jaunt that whets the appetite for further adventures. This is one cheese that's definitely worth smelling.

The great danger in trying to establish a movie franchise, complete with its own high concept premise and mythology, is becoming too bogged down in explaining the backstory and laying the foundations. This is quickly avoided through an opening narration that quickly dispatches the vital information and allows the central plot to hit the ground running, or indeed jumping. In an age packed full of overlong blockbusters, Jumper's 90-minute duration is particularly refreshing and also ensures that the plot is incredibly lean.

The flab-free narrative follows the adventures of David Rice (Christensen), a young man who discovers he has the power to instantly teleport to locations across the globe. He harnesses his ability to steal a massive wad of cash, but soon discovers that a nasty chap (Roland) is after his blood. Hooking up with fellow 'jumper' Griffin (Bell) and high school sweetheart Millie (Bilson), David has to use his skills to stay alive at all costs.

Much of the film's relative success hinges upon the central character of David. He's neither the conventional movie hero nor the classic anti-hero, occupying a morally ambiguous no man's land in between. A flashback to his pre-jumping days demonstrates that he has a decent degree of kindness within his soul, but once he discovers his unique ability he hardly becomes Mother Teresa, instead opting for a selfish, luxurious lifestyle until his inner yearning to be loved takes hold of him. There's a fantastic, rather subtle moment when David is wallowing in his plush pad, funded by stolen money, with the television in the background showing a news report depicting several innocent villagers stranded due to a flood and facing death as they can't be reached. David simply glances away and totally rejects contemplating using his powers to perform a rescue attempt.

No stranger to teetering on the Dark Side, Hayden Christensen is perfectly cast as David. With his distinctly dark, sunken eyes clashing with his chiseled pin-up features, he visually fits the part and conveys an underlying sense of hurt stemming from David's abandonment by his mother at a tender age. The supporting cast is uniformly superb, with Rachel Bilson's Millie providing an appealing 'damsel in distress' and Jamie Bell suitably downtrodden and uber-cynical as the lone-wolf Jumper Griffin. As for Samuel L Jackson, he's hardly stretching his thespian abilities, but no one else can quite pull off the whole mean badass mutha act like he can.

Director Doug Liman keeps the globetrotting action moving along at a swift pace, deploying numerous sweeping camera shots in a bid to foreground the breathtaking nature of locations such as The Sphinx and The Colosseum, and also the spatial freedom afforded to the Jumpers. Wisely though, he steers clear of becoming too embroiled in the postcard-style environments, or else one would half expect Judith Chalmers to walk into shot for another edition of Wish You Were Here.

The old saying goes that any performance should leave the crowd wanting more. On this form, and with several tantalising revelations towards the end of the film, Jumper deserves the sequel treatment - and soon.

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