When I went the theatre to see Chronicle, I found myself sitting behind a birthday party full of eleven-year-old kids. Chronicle was definitely not their kind of film; it’s mature and complex, dealing with the true ethical issues behind becoming a “superhero,” someone with paranormal powers and ending in one of the most tragic and depressing action sequences in recent memory. It was great, but not a film for an eleven-year-old boy and a half dozen of his closest friends. Exiting the movie theatre, I couldn’t help but imagine how upset the birthday boy’s parents were that they hadn’t previewed the movie beforehand. Chronicle clearly wasn’t their movie, but Jumper would have been. Jumper is, in just about every sense of the word, a prepubescent film.
In Jumper, Hayden Christensen plays David Rice, a boy (and I use that word on purpose) who finds himself imbued with the power to teleport, or “jump” from place to place by simply picturing the place he wants to be. This souds like an awesome concept, and it is. Unfortunately, there is a story to cope with here, and it isn’t good.
We open this movie on a fifteen-year-old version of David, played by Max Theriot, who does some of the best acting in this film. He has a crush on a girl named Millie (AnnaSophia Robb) and tries to give her a present. Unfortunately, the tough jock guy doesn’t want her to have it and throws it onto a frozen river. In classic film trope form, David falls into the frozen river trying to retrieve it, and somehow manages to teleport himself into the middle of the local public library.
For the next fifteen minutes after these initial scene, this movie is an awesome ride. We watch as David escapes his callous and alcoholic father (Michael Rooker), travels cross-country, rents an apartment, robs a couple banks via teleportation (which has got to be the coolest way to rob a bank that I’ve ever heard of), and starts a life on his own. At this point, I was excited by the prospects this film had to offer. It was fun and, while all of David’s actions seemed incredibly childish, I had never seen any movie quite like this.
Then, suddenly, twenty minutes into the movie, everything changes. The last title card (“Directed by Doug Liman”) shows (Why do these titles take fifteen minutes?), we’re transported eight years into the future, Theriot is replaced by the far less charismatic Hayden Christensen, and the movie gets really crappy.
Samuel L. Jackson shows up as the leader of a group of people who call themselves the Paladins. As he explains in his long dull opening monologue, the Paladins seem to believe that “only god should be in all places at once,” thus they’re trying to kill all the Jumpers. Jackson’s character finds David, and a typical cat-and-mouse game begins as the Paladins try to track down him and Millie (now played by Rachel Bilson), whom David inexplicably decides to drag into this mess. Another Jumper named Griffin (Jamie Bell) is introduced, although I’m not quite sure why. We travel around the world, and finally, we find ourselves in that inevitable epic battle scene between Jackson and Christensen. This plot makes no sense.
But it’s not just the plot that’s messed up. The characters are stupid too. If you’ll recall, I called David a “boy.” There’s a reason for this. Even in this “eight years later” future, he acts like a fifteen-year-old. Instead of leveraging his powers for socially responsible and interesting behaviors, David chooses to mess around with them, going surfing in Fiji, eating picnics on top of the Sphinx, and chilling next to the clock face on Big Ben. These are not mature or responsible behaviors. In fact, I’d like to think that they’re nowhere close to what a sound-minded twenty-three-year-old would do with his time.
David is even presented with an obvious opportunity for heroics. As he prepares for his day of fun, the news on the TV tells him about a tragic flood that has left people stranded on their roofs. All he would have to do would be to teleport there, then teleport to dry land with those people, a five minute job, and he could have saved lives. Instead, he goes surfing.
All this said, the plot and characters aren’t the only things worthy of blame here. It seems like everyone involved in this film knew going in that it was going to be terrible, and as a result decided to phone it in. Even the great actors like Samuel L. Jackson and Michael Rooker didn’t seem remotely interested in the movie. Their characters were flat and unmotivated. Visual Effects, usually the highlight of a film like this, also didn’t seem up to snuff. In scenes where actors teleported, I could often either see bits of a blue or green screen showing through their costumes or find that whole chunks of them just didn’t appear, the results of under- and over-zealous compositing, respectively. And for a movie about someone capable of traveling wherever he wants, we only seemed to visit a couple of different locations, as if nobody wanted to buy more stock footage.
Overall, this film was a huge disappointment. I have typically been fond of Director Doug Liman‘s works in the genre of action, but this is just plain lackluster.
I give it a 2/5.