Some kids break out in face-scarring acne. Most everyone's voice drops an octave or two. Yet right around the time David Rice (Max Thieriot
) hit puberty, he discovered he could teleport. His first leap took him from a frozen lake to the local library so he could dodge a dangerous bully. He calls on the power to help him escape his abusive father (Michael Rooker, who you hire when Robert Patrick is unavailable). In time, the 15-year-old "bouncer" concocts schemes to rob banks, funding a lucrative lifestyle that starts drawing attention from unfavorable forces.Hayden Christensen
steps into the David Rice role as Jumper progresses and delivers a performance that's as bland and flavorless as his moniker suggests. Years after leaving home, David has mastered the art of jumping and uses it to have lunch atop the Great Sphinx, surf tubular waves off the coast of Fiji, flirt with chicks in a London pub, and take his high-school sweetheart, Millie (Rachel Bilson
), around Rome's top tourist traps. Article continues below
It's during that Italian jaunt when David encounters Griffin (Jamie Bell
), a fellow teleporter who informs our hero of his new function in the age-old battle raging between special beings with "transportational" abilities. The jumpers are hunted by paladins, who appear to be led by Roland (Samuel L. Jackson
), an ambiguous agent working for an unknown task force who believes only God deserves the ability to be anywhere at once. While Roland can't "jump," he does cover a lot of ground -- he discovers David in Manhattan, follows Millie to Italy, and then intercepts the couple in Detroit (which is where you jump when you run out of money to shoot in Chicago). He also piggybacks on Griffin's traveling wormhole for a climactic battle in the middle of an Egyptian desert.
A jumper's natural ability might be necessary to leapfrog the gaping plot holes in the Jumper script. Roland informs David that it's hard to teleport when electricity is being pumped through a jumper's brain, but doesn't elaborate why. And to where could a jumper actually jump? Can they merely look at a picture of a location and leap there (as suggested), or do they have to physically visit a spot before teleporting to it? David mentions something about "jumping spots" he has created around Tokyo, but the science behind the teleportation is never made clear.
Instead of delving into the clashing histories of jumpers and paladins, Jumper director Doug Liman
develops the inane romance between David and Millie -- two empty vessels who make the Cloverfield kids look like Rhodes scholars. Christensen's stiff portrayal of Anakin Skywalker in George Lucas' Star Wars prequels earned him the fitting nickname "Mannequin" Skywalker. He shows no improvement as an actor, delivering lines in a monosyllabic pattern that's backed by a vacant stare. Bell and Bilson adequately overlook the overall nonsense of the story, while Jackson mails in his villainous part.
Liman musters plausible effects but directs without urgency. The action moves along to John Powell's jaunty, jazzy score, which counteracts Christensen's lifeless narration. At least Liman avoids easy green-screen technology to actually film his globetrotting scenes in world cities such as Paris, Rome, New York City, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. It lends a sliver of credibility to the production and tallies frequent flier miles for the director and his crew. At each stop, however, I wanted to send postcards to our old friend Mr. Logic that simply stated, "Wish you were here!"