Thursday, February 21, 2008

JUMPER (2008)

Who's in It: Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson, Jamie Bell, Samuel L. Jackson, Diane Lane

The Basics: The most boring man alive discovers he has the ability to teleport through space to wherever he wants to go — "Did I just teleport?" he asks himself the first time it happens. When he robs some banks for funding along the way? No big deal. But then Samuel L. with a white afro shows up as a "paladin," whose job is to stalk and kill jumpers. He keeps yelling, "ONLY GOD SHOULD HAVE THIS POWER!" while trying to eliminate the most boring man alive. And you're sort of rooting for Sam …

What's the Deal? This would have been a perfect piece of junk entertainment if they had only managed to steer clear of the acting pothole that is Christensen. Seriously, is it possible for an actor to have a negative amount of charisma? He makes you wish Stanley Kubrick were alive still and had cast him in the Keir Dullea blank-faced astronaut role in 2001: A Space Odyssey. As it is, you only wake up when now grown-up Billy Elliot star Bell comes along to be all swaggery and interesting.

What Would Have Happened If This Had Been a Smarter Movie:
1. Lane would have had more than five minutes of stunt-casting screen time. For as much as she had to do here, they could have let Heidi Klum play the part for a lot less money.
2. Lane's character's meaty moral conflict — she's a paladin, too, just like Jackson — could have become a metaphor for a whole lot of other stuff and not sacrificed the action. It could have been a potentially heartbreaking storyline. And it just lies there like a wad of barely chewed gum on the sidewalk.

How Late You Can Be: You can spend the first 30 minutes of this film eating one of everything at the concession and then checking your e-mail in the lobby. All he does is jump around from place to place. After that, the chasing and the fighting starts, and the movie starts to be fun. Then you'll almost forget you've just paid money to see more of young Anakin.

Still Better Than: Awake, Factory Girl, Life as a House, the picnic scene in Episode II.