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Jumper (2008) / (Full Ws Dub Sub Ac3 Dol Dts Chk)
Format: DVD
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Sometimes a cool special effect doesn't have to be the main reason a science fiction movie works. As two young men fight each other in staccato bursts of blue and white lightning that spit them from some desert cave to Hong Kong to Rome and finally to some war-torn desert country, it's hard not to marvel at how innocuously director Doug Liman has integrated Jumper's central gimmick'"that some people can teleport from one place to the another'"into his fairly conventional action movie. Jumper doesn't explain how David Rice (Hayden Christensen) can move instantly from one place to another. Instead, the movie merely treats it as just another human foible'"a fairly extraordinary one, sure, but David's blips around the world and back are pretty much the only aspects of the movie that are fanciful. Everything else unwinds like a straight-ahead chase flick.

Liman's casual treatment of teleportation gives Jumper a comic book feel, where the world is exactly as it is in real life save a little tweak. It's a vibe he touched on in 2005's Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the only movie in recent memory that featured some 50,000 bullets and barely a single drop of blood. Jumper is just as chaste, where David's encounters with jumper hunters called Paladins feature a fair amount of nifty gadgets and cool bouncing around the room, but no gruesome bodily harm.

In other words, don't scrutinize Jumper too much'"it's little more than entertaining fantasy fare. David's first jump happens in high school when he falls into a frozen lake, and during his panicked attempts to push back through the ice, he suddenly finds himself on the floor of the public library. Presumed missing or dead, David flees his frustrating home life with his single father (Michael Rooker) and heads to New York, where he learns to control his gift and use it to amass a swank apartment by robbing banks. He jumps purely because he can'"to surf in the Pacific Ocean in the morning, lunch atop the Sphinx at noon, pick up a woman at a London bar that night.

Soon, David's blithe teleporting causes fellow jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell) to track him down and clue him in to the Paladins, led by the single-minded Roland (Samuel L. Jackson with a bleach-blond dye job), who kills jumpers simply because they're different. Jumper doesn't treat that theme with as much depth as the X-Men franchise, but it's only getting started'"it ends with a sequel less a hint than a promise. For the moment, Jumper'"and its snazzy imagery of a bus suddenly flying through the air or a Mercedes leapfrogging through city traffic'"is guiltless popcorn fun.


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