“Jumper” makes its audience wish that they, too, could “jump” from place to place – but only so they can jump out of the theater and leave this awful piece of trash behind.

David Rice (Hayden Christensen, “Awake”) is a wimpy 15-year-old from Ann Arbor (yes, Ann Arbor, Michigan) until the day he falls through a patch of ice and finds himself in the Ann Arbor Public Library. To David’s amazement, he’s discovered that he can teleport or “jump” almost anywhere he wants. David decides to use his power to leave his old life in Ann Arbor behind and spend the rest of his years robbing banks and living the “good life.”

(As a side note, the whole Ann Arbor angle does provide some nifty little “Hey, there’s Michigan Book and Supply!” and “Look, someone with a University of Michigan sweatshirt!” moments, but the film doesn’t spend much of its time here. On to bigger, though not exactly better, things.)

Eight years go by without any mention of just what he’s been doing this whole time, and suddenly David finds himself being hunted by Roland (Samuel L. Jackson, “Pulp Fiction”), a “Paladen” who hunts and kills “Jumpers.” It’s never really explained why Paladens want to kill Jumpers so badly, but man do they hate them. Roland does his best to rationalize the hatred, insisting that people like David need to be killed because “Sooner or later, you all go bad.”

Actually, he has a point. Instead of using these incredible powers to do great things in the world, Jumpers use their powers to rob banks, steal nice cars and pick up hot European women. So this doesn’t exactly make them bad guys, but it doesn’t really make them good guys either. Which is why it’s hard to cheer for just one side here. If Roland did kill David, there’d be fewer bank robberies, less destruction of property and less blandness in the world.

To be fair though, it’s not all bad. Every scene involving another Jumper, Griffin (Jamie Bell, “Billy Elliot”), who hunts and kills Paladens, has the right amount of frenetic energy and fun, which the rest of the movie (and Christensen) sorely lack. Maybe the producers should have cast Bell as the lead instead? Just a thought.

With all the money being thrown around to make this movie, one would think some of it would have gone towards creating a well-written script. The flashy special effects and action sequences are clearly meant to make up for the story telling (or lack thereof) this film provides. It’s a little arrogant on the part of the filmmakers to assume that just because there’s something flashy going on on-screen, nothing really needs to be explained. On second thought, maybe it’s better not knowing.

That way we never have to question things like: Why does nobody notice when David suddenly appears out of nowhere, accompanied by large gusts of wind and earthquake-like tremors? Or, what are the rules of jumping, since upon first discovering his abilities, David can only jump to places he’s been before but by the end of the film he’s a regular world traveler.

Don’t waste any time with these questions.

Don’t waste your time with this movie at all.

Jumper
At Showcase and Quality 16

New Line
Rating:1 1/2 out of 5 stars

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