Sunday, March 16, 2008

12th March 08 - Jumper

Disappointment this week. There I was, eagerly anticipating an exciting yarn about a man who knits sweaters with super-speed all over the globe. How misleading can one title be, eh? Instead we get a tale that is, in theory, pretty damn cool. “Jumpers” are teleporters - lucky gits who can transport themselves anywhere they can think of in the blink of a smug special effect. One such “jumper” is David Rice (Hayden Christensen) who lives the life of riley, robbing banks, lounging in Egypt, surfing, visiting a rainy England - and all in one day if he so pleases. The only thorn in his side is the girl next-door he left behind. Oh, and some guys in grey polo-necks who like to track down his kind and obliterate them. Spoil-sports.

Yup, Jumper has the makings of an uber-cool blockbuster with brains. Smashing effects, new super-powers giving rise to original set-pieces and a bit of fun underlying subtext (stuffy old folks don’t like the fact that these young-guns can do whatever the hell they like, and the effect of living life while ignoring consequence). Plus director Doug Liman brought us the overly popular Bourne Identity and eye-candy nonsense of Mr & Mrs Smith. What can go wrong?

Well. Unfortunately the pacing and script tried to match the jumping abilities of the film’s hero, leaving a trail of open-ended, under-developed tosh while skipping on to the Next Fight Scene. Some scenes go as follows:

Good Guy: Hey, who are you?
Bad Guy: I’m the bad guy. I want to kill you because I do.
Good Guy: Really? Damn.

That’s about as deep as they get. Which is a shame, because everywhere you look there are “nearly” moments, when the film comes close to being really good. David’s deepening loneliness, from a broken home and - nearly. A sweet love story with a sparky girl who - nearly. Tragic events that cause a change of - nearly. A twist in the tale that could provide some brilliant tension and - oh, it’s finished.

It’s all quite frustrating. Not least because Jamie Bell, who storms in to take the glory with his twitchy, scruffy version of a jumper turning the tables on his hunters, is paraded in front of us, then miserably ditched in favour of Hayden’s more bland “hero”. Not that Hayden doesn’t do too bad a job. He emotes with his big eyes, and I was reasonably attracted to him, which is always a good starting point. Then there’s Samuel L Jackson as the big bad, who would be scary if it wasn’t for the fact that he has laughably white hair and is named Roland.

It’s all the more frustrating because there are some great moments, be it the teleport fights (teleport a bus at them - that’ll do it) or the fact that our goodie isn’t really that great (blithely ignoring a natural disaster in favour of getting some totty in London). But what could have been a zesty sci-fi tart is in fact a haphazard and deflated flan. Jumper slumps to a CF-1. Stick it on for Saturday night-in entertainment. But don’t jump to see it at the cinema.

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