2/14/08

Jumper: What Happened to The Wall?

The Wall, in this case, being the stone-faced acting of Hayden Christensen. I was surprised to see a wider range of emotions from him this time around. Either that or his regular dry visage fit the character better this time. There were many cases when his character, David, required a quick, bored, normal look - the look that Hayden is so good at - because he just did something extraordinary, but at the same time needs to hide.

But the Jumper story is obviously not about Hayden Christensen. Nor is it about a rematch between Anikin and Mace Windu. (YES! I found a way to work in a Star Wars joke!) Although, David does just about get himself destroyed because of his love for a girl, quite similar to Anikin, David's story is essentially different because instead of going from good to bad he goes from pretty bad to pretty good. I could go on a long post-modern bunny trail about how there is no real good or bad in this movie and how the ones with extraordinary powers are just as tainted as everyone else and the Paladins, supposedly on the side of God, are the bad guys who kill people even though the Jumpers also kill and steal but I'll leave that rant against relativism to Ravi Zacharias.

Samuel L Jackson's character in this story is a Paladin. No, he doesn't play World of Warcraft. In this story, Paladins have been hunting down Jumpers since the middle ages. The genetic anomaly that allows a human to "jump" was seen as witchcraft back then and the war continued ever since. I don't want to say this movie targets religious extremism, because it really doesn't. Religious extremism is just a plot device in this case, really. Christians aren't going to be offended by seeing Samuel L Jackson kill a Jumper because "That power should only belong to God." They're just going to think "Wow... that guy's a nutcase. I'm glad the religion I subscribe to doesn't kill people for being different..."

The structure of this story is really a lesson in raising the stakes, too. First you find out David can teleport and you're like "Holy crap! He can teleport!" But then that gets kindda old. Alright, he can teleport - what's next? Holy crap! Someone's hunting him! That's not really a great thing - it'll probably carry us through the movie... but it gets boring. What's next? Holy crap! There are more of them! Maybe he can meet one! Holy crap! He meets one! Holy crap! There's a whole underground war going on between these people! Holy crap! He can teleport a car! Holy crap! He can teleport a building! What's real funny is that the end leaves the story wide open for a sequel, but with all this extraordinary crap now behind us, how on earth can it get any more spectacular? Will they teleport earth out of its orbit??

So Jumper's a pretty good movie. The acting, while not spectacular, did slightly exceed my expectations. The story was good enough to hold my attention and the graphics added that much more realism to the idea of teleportation. Oscar winner? Probably not. But here's the bottom line: was it worth $8? Yes. I give Jumper 7 out of 10 asterisks.