‘Jumper’ fails to reach potential heights

David Hohwald

Director Doug Liman’s follow-up to the infinitely watchable “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” seems to have all the keys for success.

With a huge budget; a recognizable, if not famous, cast; and a cool hook, “Jumper” has nearly everything going for it.

However, while the movie may deliver on the tagline, “Anywhere is possible,” it misses in so many areas that the end result is a spectacular flop.

Liman’s poor direction and weak script-not to mention some lackluster performances-turn “Jumper” into a globe-trotting failure.

The biggest catch for “Jumper” is the concept: a teenager discovers, through a freak accident, that he has the ability to teleport.

Antics ensue, and he soon bites off more than he can chew. Sadly, the movie does not get much deeper than that.

The script is about as shallow as a puddle and lurches from one action scene to another, laboring through even the easiest non-action sequences.

The dialogue is clunky, and the characters seem not only fake but very bad at being fake through heavy-handed writing.

If that weren’t enough, the script is riddled with holes.

The teleportation concept is interesting, but so much goes unexplained that the audience is not really sure how it works or what rules there are to it.

Some arbitrary rules are set up about “jump points”, apparently created through photographs, but they are never explained (although constantly referenced).

The acting does not do a whole lot to remedy this flaw.

Hayden Christensen is no more charismatic or talented than he was in the new “Star Wars” trilogy, and his lack of range leaves a perpetual smirk on his face throughout the film.

His romantic interest, played by Rachel Bilson, is even worse.

She fails to convey even the most basic of emotions and might as well be a cardboard cutout.

Samuel L. Jackson delivers a typical performance of his where he spouts mantras and platitudes, and the viewer knows nothing about him except that he is one bad guy.

The only bright spot in the bunch is actor Jamie Bell of “Billy Elliott” fame.

He has a natural charisma and playfulness to him that lets him steal every scene he is in.

As for the action itself, Liman shows again and again that he knows how to direct action sequences.

For the most part they are interesting, if not a bit too stylized, and are most everything that a big-budget action film should have.

However, the dependence on the teleportation aspect of the film makes many of them seem jumpy-no pun intended.

This quick-cutting nature tends to go from interesting to completely absurd with no warning, as in a scene where a flamethrower just sort of shows up.

The scene is actually a good bit of comedy, but Liman probably did not intend for the scene to be laughable.

When it comes to directing the other parts, though, Liman’s work is pretty terrible.

He tries to create characters through common clichés, and the result is that none of the people feel even a bit developed.

If that weren’t all, he clearly sets up the film to have sequels because the ending is completely unsatisfying.

All in all, “Jumper” is a few steps back for Liman.

It manages to do only a few things well, creating some cool action sequences with nice special effects, but the final product just does not pass muster.

The script is poorly written and choppy, and the direction is weak in general; the performances are hardly better.

When the best thing to recommend about a movie is the trailers shown before the film, it’s probably not worth seeing it.