Jumper: a good-looking bad movie

    Thanks to Jumper, I’ve spent 22 hours standing in the cold, drank eight cups of hot chocolate and have had my first brush with fame and fortune. I was an extra during the February 2007 filming of the movie. After a year-long wait, I finally saw the finished product. Was it worth it? Probably not.

    In the opening scene, which is set at a school (my high school in Ann Arbor, MI), you’ll spot a splash of purple on a bridge. It’s fuzzy, but that is my moment of big-screen greatness. For that shot, I spent 20 hours standing in the cold, walking when the production staff told me to. I ate surprisingly tasty catered food and even sat in a van with AnnaSophia Robb.

    Seeing myself on-screen was the most surprising moment of an otherwise tired, by-the-book, sci-fi action film.

    The movie, directed by Doug Liman (Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Bourne Identity), has more eye candy than a dirty magazine. But unlike Playboy, it never had Kurt Vonnegut to contribute witty dialogue and a logical plot, which probably would have helped.

    Hayden Christensen plays an angsty teleporter. Photo from movies.com.

    Hayden Christensen stars as David Rice, who discovers at a young age that he can teleport, or “jump.” He hasn’t gotten over the trauma of living with an emotionally unsupportive father or the fact that his mother (Diane Lane) left when he was five. For the role, Christensen works his trademark “I need to be loved” expression and Brooklyn accent, even though his character reminds us every few scenes that he’s from Ann Arbor. He also has the pleasure of delivering stellar lines like “Did I just teleport?”

    The rest of the characters aren’t any more likeable or believable. Samuel L. Jackson plays Roland, the white-haired villain hell-bent on destroying all the jumpers. Although there’s never a clear motive, we know he’s really dedicated, really angry and really deep. Rachel Bilson (The OC, The Last Kiss), who appears as Christensen’s love interest, plays another tired character pulled from the recycling bin. The once starry-eyed, down on her luck bartender is unlikeable and whiny. Her interactions with Christensen are more awkward and angry than romantic.

    Griffin, played by Jaime Bell (Billy Elliott), is the most likeable. A jumper trying to preempt those after him, he has a lair on Mt. Everest and steals cars from indoor showrooms. He saves a few scenes with refreshing gusto and an Irish accent before falling into a trap set by the screenwriters too deep to climb out of.

    Jumper’s saving grace comes from its stunning shots. Panoramic views of busy Tokyo streets at night, the Coliseum and the Sphinx all play backdrop to the film. All the shots were filmed on location; it’s porn for the Lonely Planet set.

    Jumper has all the ingredients of a blockbuster: huge budget, A-list director, big name cast and awesome-looking scenes.

    Sadly, it wasn’t satisfied with being an all-style-and-no-substance film. The movie tried to be witty (at one point it featured shots of posters reading “Escape to the Library” when Christensen first teleports there) but, like with a silent movie, some things are better left unsaid. The ending was worse than the dialogue. Not only was it unsatisfying, it was also a total set-up for a sequel.

    If the Star Wars prequels have taught us anything, it’s that Christensen plus bad dialogue plus a multi-movie package makes for a terrible movie. At least Jumper is good-looking.

    Maybe it’ll redeem itself in the films to come, when the characters and premise have been established. Or, more likely, there will be even more holes and unresolved question marks.

    Back on the set, Doug Liman said two things to me: “Good work” and “good morning.” If only I could say “good work” back.


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