Saturday, 14 February 2009

Review: Jumper

We're approaching the end of the Oscar season and entering the serious sci-fi film season (as opposed to the blockbuster season). I'm particularly looking forward to Push and Franklyn both of which are nearing their UK releases.

The Push trailer reminded me a little of Jumper, a film I enjoyed last year. It looks like both are part of the trend of re-inventing the idea of superhumans, also seen in Heroes, the bullet-benders of Wanted and M.Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable - the emphasis is taken away from jumpsuits, alter-egos and day-to-day crime-fighting, in place of casual clothes and a more inventive look at superpowers. There's still a central theme of battles between good and evil, but Jumper has less in common with Superman and more in common with John Twelve Hawks' The Traveller, or Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code as ancient secret societies try to wipe each other from history. Here the genetic defect in question grants the power of more or less unlimited teleportation, which the hero, played by Hayden Christiansen, has absolutely no intention of using for the greater good - instead, believing himself to be unique, he travels the world robbing banks, collecting souvenirs and generally leading a Jumper playboy lifestyle. He is only drawn into battle when his actions draw the attention of the Paladins, Samuel L. Jackson's Jumper-hating sect who believe, and seem to need to keep reminding us, that "Only God should have this power."

Teleportation provides an excuse to set the action in and around world landmarks. Jumpers use their abilities inventively to gain advantage in a fight - the Paladins have to stop them with Jumper-jamming electric harpoons fired from their staffs. This could have been absolute rubbish - and sometimes it is - but more often than not the scenes are imaginative and make good use of the teleportation concept.

Christiansen and Jackson are perfectly good in their roles, as is Rachel Bilson who could have been given a bit more to do. The revelation is Jamie Bell as Griffin, a fellow Jumper, who gives his part authenticity and depth. Overall this is an average but highly enjoyable B-movie that - just occasionally - punches above its' weight and provides moments of originality.

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