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Monday, February 18, 2008

Jumper

Tell the truth. When you first heard there was a movie coming out called Jumper you thought it was about a potential suicide on a window ledge somewhere, didn’t you? I’ll admit it, I did too, but when I heard it was going to star Hayden Christensen I knew it had to be about something else because if it was Hayden up on a roof or on a ledge it would make for a short movie. Everybody in the crowd below would be screaming “Jump! Jump! Jump!” until he did. I’m sorry, but it’s true. The world isn’t yet ready to forgive Christensen for his wussy portrayal of Anakin Skywalker in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and may never be.

So I snooped further and found the
Jumper website, just in time to check out the preview in the days before it started playing in theaters. I learned that the basic premise of Jumper is that there are these people out in the world (called ‘Jumpers’, duh) who can teleport wherever they want to whenever they want. Unfortunately, as with all things too cool for school, there’s something that is going to step in and ruin the Jumpers’ fun, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

I thought about what an absolutely fabulous ability this would be. I’d be able to shop all over the world. I could make LOTS of money as Britney Spears’ personal Starbucks mule, shuttling those frappes back and forth to her in the blink of an eye all day long, or I could become the world’s best paparazzo, popping into celebs’ bedrooms with a camera, snapping a surprise photo or two, and then *poof!* straight to the National Enquirer’s offices. I know, it sounds tawdry, but at least I wouldn’t be doing anything illegal (well, except maybe trespassing). It’s not like I’d be robbing banks.

That is the pastime of David Rice (Hayden Christensen; Virgin Territory), the Jumper at the center of our story. After an accident at fifteen triggered David’s ability to teleport, he disappeared from the lousy life he had at home with his less-than-stellar father, Bill (Michael Rooker; Whisper), who is as pleasant as a colonoscopy without anesthesia. Since David’s mother (Diane Lane; Untraceable) left home when he was only five, he felt he had no real ties left to where he was, and the convenience of his accident gave him the opportunity to let the community think he was dead, letting him head out for adventures in New York unencumbered.

That’s where the bank robbing begins, and it becomes sort of a necessary evil for the young man who wants to live the good life in New York. By the time the film shifts from young David being played by Max Thieriot (Nancy Drew) to adult David (Christensen), the
Jumper is living in a deluxe apartment in the sky, one that would make “The Jeffersons” jealous as all get out. Obviously, he has perfected his early attempts at bank robbery and become a master. Sweet. He’s also become quite the world traveler, and we get to see David bounce all over the place ~ London, Egypt, Fiji, and Tokyo. Quite a nice life. Tons of money, stylish digs, the best clothes, and all the women he wants all over the world. This is where the bad part comes in.

Like I said earlier, nothing this good can be true. It’s got
to come with a price, and it does. David learns the hard way that “his kind” are being hunted down by a group known as the Paladins. When I first heard the “gunslingers” were the Paladins all I could think about was the old tv show “Have Gun ~ Will Travel.” Ancient people like me will remember Richard Boone as the gun for hire named Paladin who always wore black, spoke very little, and rode from town to town after the Civil War, killing off whoever he was paid to kill. That Paladin ran for 226 episodes from 1957 to 1963. Could it be that writers David S Goyer (Batman Begins), Jim Uhls (Fight Club) and Simon Kinberg (X-Men: The Last Stand) were paying a wee homage to a favorite media character from their childhood? I hope so because, if not, and they picked that name randomly, then they unintentionally distracted me from the next hour of their movie because I couldn’t get the “Have Gun ~ Will Travel” theme song out of my head. Oy! I hadn’t thought of it in 40 years and now it won’t go away. Grrr.

Anyway, the Paladin in charge of the operation to hunt down and kill David is the always smooth Samuel L. Jackson (1408) as Roland, who wages his war with a stun gun not too different from that light saber he used in Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith, when, as Mace Windu, the good Jedi, he fought against Darth Christensen and his evil Empire. My, how times and roles have changed. At least there are no mother****ing snakes on any mother****ing plane in this movie.

Dragged into all this is David’s one-time teenage girlfriend, Millie (Rachel Bilson; tv’s “The O.C.”), now all grown-up and a bartender. (She probably wishes now she had packed a few six packs before agreeing to go anywhere with David.) She goes from bedmate to hostage in less than a day, which must hold some kind of message for young women, but I’m not sure what it is. This sort of situation doesn’t happen all that often. Oh well, at least she got to fulfill a lifelong dream and go to Rome before the merde hit the fan.


I did enjoy
Jumper, but, to be honest, I felt like I had jumped into chapter two or three of a comic book series as there were bits and pieces of the back-story that were never adequately explained. Why, for instance, does David jump quietly from place to place in some scenes and yet in others his jumps cause enormous physical disturbances in the area around him, knocking over furniture, blasting tiles off the floor, or bringing in waves of water behind him? I also wondered about the origins of the Paladin/Jumper war. Roland says it was the basis of the Inquisition and went back beyond the time of Christ, but how the Paladins decided they were granted the Divine Right to slaughter Jumpers would have been an interesting side note. I’d also like to find out if David knows Hiro from “Heroes”? Do they ever bump into one another while passing through the ether? These are questions that need answers. Perhaps we can expect to find some of them in the inevitable sequel, which I’ll be first in line to see. Call me, and I’ll save you a seat.

Oh, and for those who care:


Have Gun ~ Will Travel reads the card of a man.
A knight without armor in a savage land.
His fast gun for hire heeds the calling wind.
A soldier of fortune is the man called Paladin.
Paladin, Paladin. Where do you roam?
Paladin, Paladin, Far, far from home.

He travels on to wherever he must.
A chess knight of silver is his badge of trust.
There are campfire legends that the trailmen spin
Of the man with the gun,
Of the man called Paladin.
Paladin, Paladin. Where do you roam?
Paladin, Paladin. Far, far from home.
Far from home. Far from home.

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