Hop, Skip and a Snooze 

A bored-looking Darth Vader Hayden Christensen dooms 'Jumper' to mediocrity

Current movie-critic whipping boy Hayden Christensen jumps around a lot in the aptly titled Jumper, which is about a guy who jumps around a lot. And, for a movie about a guy jumping around a lot, it's pretty flat. While the character possesses the ability to teleport from place to place, the movie never really goes anywhere.

Some of the fault lies with Christensen, who sleepwalks through the role, which is pretty odd when you consider he's playing a guy who jumps around a lot. He plays David Rice, who conveniently discovers his ability to teleport after falling through ice as a youngster. One moment, he's about to become fish food, and then--zoom!--he zips to a library, where he causes a commotion.

Before long, David moves to New York City and masters the art of world travel without buying tickets. If he had to buy tickets, that would be OK, because he's also mastered the art of robbing banks without ever opening a door or vault. He keeps millions of dollars, motorcycles and more in his NYC apartment, where he has become so lazy that he teleports across the kitchen to reach the refrigerator. He looks mighty fit for a guy who has eschewed walking and minimal tasks.

The setup for the film is mildly interesting, but then the movie gets a little dopey. David comes face to face with his arch nemesis, Mace Windu, I mean Samuel L. Jackson as Roland, a guy who really hates jumpers, because, "Only God has the right to be everywhere!" or something like that. I half expected Roland to kick David's ass because he had turned to the dark side of the Force.

There's also Millie (Rachel Bilson), the girl David was all funny for while growing up in Ann Arbor, Mich. Millie always dreamed of going to Rome as a child, so David takes her there via plane. He won't use his powers to save them travel time and airfare, but he uses them like crazy while inside the Coliseum after hours. It is here that David meets fellow jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell), who cleverly introduces himself while taking a piss. It's one of director Doug Liman's attempts at humor--the whole, "Hey, good to meet you ... oops, I'm taking a piss!" routine. You know it well. It's a corker.

While the main idea of Jumper is clever, the narrative and plot are weak. The visual of David having a picnic atop the Sphinx is cool, as is a sequence in which he and Griffin fight while jumping from location to location. But the novelty of a teleporting character wears thin, and a whole subplot involving David's long-lost mother (Diane Lane) is a waste of film, as is the business with Millie not understanding the whole jumping-around thing. It doesn't help that Christensen and Bilson have no chemistry.

Bell lights up the film when he's on screen, but that is only for a precious few minutes. Otherwise, we get to watch a bored Christensen droning his lines, his eyes looking as if it's way past his nappy time. I've liked Christensen in the past, especially in Shattered Glass and the last Star Wars movie. I guess films about guys jumping around a lot fail to get his blood going.

The door is left wide-open for a sequel. I'm hoping that David can discover a way to teleport through time, because jumping around a lot in present-day has already been played to death in just this one movie. If they get Christensen to star again, perhaps 10 cups of coffee, some smelling salts and a few spirited slaps across the face are in order--anything to wake the bastard up and make him seem interested.

Rated NR

More by Bob Grimm


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