The story of Jumper comes from the novels by Steven Gould, starting with this one, Jumper ( / ), and it was eyed as the possible start of a franchise.
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For years now those that want to kill the Jumpers have been tracking him and trying to trace anything on him, and finally they find something that leads them right to his apartment. It's not long before he's caught in the middle of a war, and another Jumper is reluctantly helping him.
Hayden Christensen plays David Rice, the lead character of the story and Jamie Bell plays another Jumper called Griffin who introduces him to the war between Jumpers and the secretive organisation out to kill them.
Samuel L. Jackson is one of the leads in the secretive organisation that hunts down these Jumpers, and surprisingly kills them.
I was expecting a lot really, considering the style of Doug Liman's previous films and the strong writing of David S. Goyer, it felt like all the pieces were here for a really strong film. However you can tell already that I'm going to bring this down, and I am, but not greatly.
You see all in all this is great entertainment, it ticks all the boxes. However that's also one of the problems. It ticks the boxes, it doesn't rip them off the page or score them down with a big black marker. It just ticks them.
From the opening of the film everything seemed a little flat, and as the visuals showed scenes that should have been big wow and surprise moments, and yet they weren't. You can argue why they weren't, after all the character himself is slightly bored with all this, jumping around a room and across continents is an everyday and natural act to him, as simple as walking. However as the audience I felt we should be wowing and gasping at these opening moments, and being as surprised as the character so obviously is himself at his first jump.
The first moment that really shows this is when the character falls into the ice. Do you remember that scene in the original Omen film, the panic and fear you feel as he falls into the ice and is trapped underneath? Well that just didn't happen here. I watched the character fall in and struggle underwater, and it was during that struggle that the tension rose slightly, but I was never as shocked and as tense as I should have been.
This continues for a lot of the film, with the direction being strong, the editing very tight, the sets and effects giving some amazing visuals, just the car race through crowded streets is enough, but again this falls short. I didn't feel the panic and tension that I should have as the car headed towards a pedestrian, or raced up behind vehicles blocking the way, I just witnessed it.
It's a feeling I really have grown used to with the Bourne films, and I put a lot of it down to the fast and tight editing, leaping from shot to shot with hardly a moment to take a breath, and making sure that most action shots are extreme close ups.
Sure that provides some great pace and injects a lot of energy into the film, but it just doesn't work for me, and I find that once again I'm talking about pulling the camera back a little, allowing me to feel involved in the action rather than my mind playing catch up as it works out what just happened on screen.
To be fair there are some sequences where the camera does pull back, and these are the ones that provide some of the films greater action moments. The Colosseum providing some of these moments.
The story is superbly thought out and wonderfully visualised, from the ideas of how the jumps work, of following each other through, and how the organisation hunt them down and utilise technology. You do get a sense that this war has been going on for a long time and that the organisation is vast, and has probably captured, studied and dissected jumpers often to find the technology they have. Perhaps they even have jumpers within their organisation.
None of these concepts are oversold to us, neither are they over explained, they are just used, and that's a great aspect of the film.
The story is a set-up for the possible start of a franchise, but you have to admit that it has been made really well because that feeling isn't glaring you in the face like some franchise starters, let's say Fantastic Four for perhaps one of the poorer examples. Here we're still treated to a rich and strong individual film.
Something that does bode well is the set-up that comes with the final few concluding scenes. I shall say no more but it bodes for a darker, more complex story in following films.
Surprisingly though it's not all about the Jumpers, although in a way it is, there's a big romance element between the characters Christensen and Bilson play, and I have to say that Bilson plays her part very well. She captivated me while she was on screen, and the subtlety of her performance was a far cry from her television roles.
The romance doesn't follow conventional routes though, and I did catch myself having a few wry smiles as the characters progress well together and take a rather non standard or linear path in their courtship. From the story telling aspect I think this is perhaps the strongest part of the film and the best acted.
I say this because when you peel back the fancy ideas of the story you are left with something we've heard before, it just comes in a different wrapper. Don't get me wrong though, you won't find yourself peeling back those layers as you'll be too busy keeping up with the action.
Back to Rachel Bilson's performance, she really is good in this, and it struck me just how big she could become after this. I just hope she isn't labelled as the hapless romantic character in too many films, although here she does have some great lines and strong moments.
Hayden Christensen is a slightly different matter. Yes, he's much better here than we've seen him, although there are already comparisons being made to an emotionally similar role from him in Star Wars, here he's more animated and involved. He's also less broody and more believable. So overall I don't think that he's that bad, although there are a few scenes where he first jumps with Millie that his dialogue and reactions are pretty frustrating, that's not down to his acting.
Samuel L. Jackson was a bit of a surprise as there wasn't really that much to the role. He just looks angry and gets physical a bit. Well, that's not entirely true, there are a few moments of short speeches, but overall he's just there to project the evil and secretive organisation, and he does that well.
However there are a couple of moments which seem to allude to a much darker side of the film and also provide Jackson with a bit of meat, and these are when he takes out his ceremonial type knife and, in the first few scenes of the film, kills a Jumper in cold blood. It's a surprisingly strong scene that does suggest there could be much more serious and darker things to come.
The real winner from this film is Jamie Bell who has the best written and created character out of the entire film. He's strong, smart, wise cracking, and slightly twisted. You know there's something a little wrong with him, and that he wouldn't hesitate to kill someone if he needed to, and yet he also provides a vulnerable and open side.
Undoubtedly he's the character you want to see more of in the film as Christensen's character is just too straight laced, plain and nice.
The locations and effects are huge in the film and look great on the big screen, and the characters flow through them effortlessly, there's never a feeling that this is faked or overly forced, it seems as the location budget for this film would have been huge as every foreign shot looks as though it is on location and without effects.
That's one of the best aspects of special effects, that they don't intrude on or override a film, and they certainly don't with Jumper, they add to the whole. Subtle is another word that runs through the effects, merely watching a jump, or the after affects of one, and you'll see what I mean.
Another great addition to the film's atmosphere is the music. At times it's an eclectic mix, but they mix well and had me noticing them.
Jumper is great entertainment, and you really can see it opening a strong franchise with some dark films and some lighter ones such as this. The story is pretty standard fare, with a few twists dropped in for good measure, although you are left wondering if that was really all there was to it.
There are great effects, great locations and strong sequences, but all through the film there's a feeling of it could have been higher, tenser and something more could have been made of a lot of the sequences.
Jamie Bell is the actor and character that really does attract all the attention, not Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson or Rachel Bilson, although she does come close.
Hopefully there's much more to come and I would be willing to see a Jumper 2, however we'd need the same cast and a stronger story, as well as a pulling back of that Bourne camera.