High concept ideas are often so obvious – hanging in front of everyone until someone turns a “what if?” into a book, screenplay or pitch and the world shakes as a million foreheads are thwacked in “why didn’t I think of that?” frustration. So it is with Jumper…
Who hasn’t imagined which superpower they’d love to possess and considered that, y’know, skipping the Tube to – WHOOSH! – neck cocktails in Hawaii might be a nifty gift? Tapping Steven Gould’s 1992 novel for inspiration, Doug Liman has made fantasy flesh, but Jumper is much more than a exercise in pure teenage wish-fulfilment. How much more will likely become apparent in parts two and three, should the ADD director – the man who started the mighty Bourne franchise only to jump ship as it took off – be bothered to return to explore the shadows cast in his effervescent sci-fi wonder.
For now though, Jumper is an invigorating, grin-inducing cine-frappe, cool and refreshing. Part one creates a world and races through it like a Skittles-stuffed toddler. The pre-credits square away the origins, then it’s – WHOOSH! – Hayden in his 20s, living it up in a life without consequences, pinging from bank vaults to landmarks to cross-continental one-night stands. Yes, he’s a morally ambiguous hero channelling a preternatural force that may alter the course of humanity… Yes, we’ve been here before. But whereas his Anakin showed less emotional range than the pimped-out wheelie bin he transformed into, Christensen delivers in Jumper. His character is angsty, adventurous and suitably self-centred without being bland.
And here he is the phantom menace – at least in the mind of Samuel L Jackson, who pops up with his fellow Paladins (read: Jumper-hunters) to try to stop Christensen’s bank-draining global joyride, suggesting that Jumpers have been responsible for much more sinister deeds in the past. “W-w-whhhy?!” asks one Jumper as Jackson is about to plunge a blade in his chest. “Because you are an abomination! Only God should have the power to be all places at all times,” growls Sam to his globe-hopping prey, his menace only slightly undermined by the revelation that his character’s name is, um, Roland.
So, there are hints at substance – the whole thing arguably a reflection on the narcissistic, too-much-is-not-enough leisure-lined lives of spoilt, first world Generation Y-ers who refuse to grow up (like, um, us). But mostly Jumper is about bitchin’ action, dude – from ‘jumping’ a double-decker to tele-racing around Tokyo. There’s an exuberance and anarchy often absent from movies of this scale – the Liman touch, the feeling anything could happen.
Christensen is backed by a brilliant Jamie Bell, bringing levity and depth to the terrier-like Griffin (a Jumper who bites back), while Rachel ‘that girl from The OC’ Bilson proves her casting as Hayden’s crush isn’t just an ironic nod to the subtext: she’s sexy but real, the ultimate girl next door. Watch, grin, repeat. Doug, please give us another Jumper.