Thursday, February 14, 2008

JUMPER - weak performances mar neat-O concept

A cake. Can a cake dance? Can a cake get you drunk? Will a cake let you put your hand up it's jumper?This poster totally sums up the new sci-fi action flick, JUMPER. On the plus side, there are a lot of cool special effects and glamourous locations thrown up onto the screen. The pyramids, the Colisseum, down-town Tokyo, the beaches of Fiji...The heroes of this film run, jump, speed and slide their way through glamourous location after glamourous location. The problem is that the amount of time and care spent on, oh simple things, like character, motivation, plot and narrative arc, are disproportionately small.

It's a real shame because the basic concept is cool. Certain people have the ability to "jump" - to teleport instantaneously to anywhere in the world. These Jumpers are being hunted down by evil Paladins, who think only God should have that kind of power.

Problem is, the Paladins are led by Samuel L Jackson in a daft blonde dye-job that totally subverts his ability to look scary and threatening. Another problem is the lame attempt to inject a bigger story/possible sequel of the "Luke, I am your father" kind. Yet another problem is the fact that our hero, as portrayed by Hayden Christiansen, comes across as whiny and self-obsessed. There's never any suggestion that David will use his powers to save others. Indeed, the only thing he uses them for is to get with his childhood sweetheart. Rachel Bilson is similarly weak in her performance.

The only person who looks remotely like he's having any fun is Jamie Bell. He camps up his cameo role as a fellow Jumper, and almost, but not quite, manages to turn a weak script into something entertaining.

I'd also like to observe that the two kids playing younger version of David and his sweetheart - Annasophia Robb and Max Thieriot - are infinitely stronger performers than their grown-up counter-parts. So if we must have a sequel, might it not be better as a more fully developed prequel?

JUMPER is on release in Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Kuwait, Mexico, the Netherlands, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, South Lorea, Taiwan, the US, the UK, Estonia, Iceland, Norway, Poland and Spain. It opens next week in Belgium, Egypt, France, Denmark, Sweden, Israel and Italy. JUMPER opens in March in Slovakia, Finland, Japan, Turkey, Germany and Brazil. It opens in Argentina on April 3rd.

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