Dir. Doug Liman, US, 2008, 88 mins
Cast: Hayden Christensen, Jamie Bell, Samuel L. Jackson, Rachel Bilson, Michael Rooker, Diane Lane
Review by Joyce Dundas
This high-concept film is, quite literally, all over the place. Christensen's character, David Rice can “jump” from one location in the world to another just by thinking about it and for the first act of the movie does just that... aimlessly. A potential superhero who refuses to fulfil his potential, well that is until he meets Jamie Bell, another jumper named Griffin, who explains that not only are there more like him, but their kind are being hunted and eradicated. And this has been going on for generations.
The combination of Griffin's ass-kicking influence and the danger David's hunters might pose to those he loves, including childhood sweetheart Millie (Bilson), galvanise him into action. Cue some of Liman's trademark shaky hand-held shots and unfortunately some extremely stilted dialogue. Plot lines are then opened which are never concluded, the biggest being the motivation for the killing of these genetically-created jumpers.
The unthreateningly named villain Roland (Jackson) declares that only God should should have the powers they have and hints that all jumpers “go bad” in the end with no evidence of this offered in the film. In fact, if anything it is Roland and his squad of industrial-strength-tazer wielding “Paladins” who come across as cold-blooded killers. There is also no explanation of the fact that if the Paladins work as teams and can contact each other,s then why don't the jumpers have the same network and army of powerful human beings
This is not a bad film, the sequences where Griffin and David jump from location to location and the shots of those locations – the filmmakers actually had three days access inside the Coliseum in Rome – themselves are worthy of any big budget blockbuster. It's just that the plot changes direction as quickly as its main protagonist leaving the audience with a certain amount of vertigo.
Christensen broods beautifully and he can't be held responsible for a weak script, but there is an emotional depth missing here. Ultimately we need to care about David's safety but the film does not explore deeply enough his claims to be different from other jumpers: we never see him do anything unselfishly good for instance. At 88 minutes it is tempting to wonder what hit the cutting room floor. It is rarely the case that a film could do with more exposition, but this one certainly needs to provide a bit more background on the war that has been raging between these two factions for thousands of years.
Bell should be commended for injecting his role with a cocky likeability since his character is also underwritten. Stalwarts Jackson and Rooker – on screen for a very short time as David's father – are both impressive with unexplored back stories to work with.
The action scenes are fast-paced, appropriately jump cutting is used throughout. However, audiences who expect the human angst or emotion from their super-powered heroes, after films like Batman Begins and X-Men, will be disappointed.