Loosely based on science-fiction writer Steven Gould's popular young adult novels Jumper and Exile, this effects-heavy adventure fantasy revolves around a young man's discovery that nifty powers – like the ability to teleport himself around the world in a heartbeat – always come with a catch. For Ann Arbor high-school student David Rice (Max Thieriot),...read more
Loosely based on science-fiction writer Steven Gould's popular young adult novels Jumper and Exile, this effects-heavy adventure fantasy revolves around a young man's discovery that nifty powers – like the ability to teleport himself around the world in a heartbeat – always come with a catch.
For Ann Arbor high-school student David Rice (Max Thieriot), life is unrelenting misery: Abandoned by his mother (Diane Lane) when he was five and raised by a brutal, alcoholic father (Michael Rooker), 15-year-old David is picked on by jocks and ignored by girls. The lone exception: Sweet-natured dreamer Millie Harris (AnnaSophia Robb), who hopes one day to leave town and see the world. A near death experience changes David's life forever: One minute he's drowning, trapped between the frozen Huron river, the next he's in the Ann Arbor public library, soaked and shivering. Everyone assumes he's dead, so David vanishes, learns to control his power and rob bank vaults. Eight years later, David (Hayden Christensen) has a fabulous Manhattan apartment and an awesome lifestyle: Breakfast in Tokyo, surfing in Fiji, lunch atop the Great Sphinx, late-night hook-up in London… all in one day. But the fun ends abruptly when the white-haired Roland (Samuel L. Jackson) turns up in his living room, armed with cruel high-tech gizmos that immobilize jumpers – yes, jumpers. After a hairsbreadth escape, David quickly reconnects with Millie (Rachel Bilson), takes her on a whirlwind trip to Rome and meets fellow-jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell), who fills him in on Roland and the paladins, an ancient society dedicated to cleansing the world of space-bending freaks whose powers are an affront to God.
The appeal of Gould's Jumper novels lies in their canny mix of adolescent misery and gee-whiz cool stuff: What unhappy 12-year-old boy wouldn't want to ditch high school, chores and adults who just don't get how hard it is to be young for the freedom of global hop-scotching and money for nothing? But David Goyer's screenplay guts the material's emotional core, glossing over all the internal strife that makes David a character rather than a cartoon in favor of flashy fights and globe trotting vistas. Poor Griffin's tortured past is summed up in a scrap of dialogue that could have been lifted from a low-rent martial arts picture, and at a certain point his character simply vanishes. The film looks great, but at a brisk 88 minutes, there's no time to fill in back story, from the epic history of paladin persecution to the deeply personal mystery of David's mother, and the cliffhanger ending is so abrupt that the movie seems bizarrely truncated.
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