The Bourne Identity, under the directorial vision of Doug Liman, was a crash course in the action genre. He made a habitual clinic on how to shoot car chases, shaken-camera fight scenes and visual maps of European cities. His latest film, Jumper, includes these "Limanesque" elements, but cracks his own filmic mold in the wrong way.
The film's primary flaw rests upon a scant, bony screenplay based on the first of a series of novels by Steven Gould about humans who can teleport (the term is "Jumper") and the historical bounty men who hunt them. Writer David Goyer (Batman Begins) and company produced a script that gives details from the novel, but never rightly explained them. It is as if they read the SparkNotes version of the novel and adapted a summary accordingly. Developments are sparse, but scanty characters ignore basic rationale without explanation for either. Yes, the idea of teleporting anywhere, anytime is appealing, and the ivory mane on Samuel L. Jackson is considerably the greatest dye job since Dennis Rodman's marriage to Carmen Electra, but there is no meat, no sustenance, no sustaining weight.
Liman's action, alongside the continuation of his fascination with the world's cities and landmarks, sputters boorishly in sneezing seizures due to the simple fact that quick action shots and constant teleportation really makes the action as hard to follow as the character development. His camera work with all the "jump sites" are as beautiful as they were in The Bourne trilogy, making the film more of a moving series of snapshots of Hayden Christensen's everlasting vacation of a life than a film with an actual plot.
Christensen's character is strong for a procrastinating slacker too lazy to reach over for a remote, let alone use his ability for anything of sacrifice or merit. His character is not completely fallible, but when he says, "See, I told you I was different," the audience will say, "Yeah, you're an ass." James Bell (King Kong) is convincing as a fellow jumper. However commendable his character is within the film, it is shortchanged and held back from progression by the constant teleportation and conflicted, simplistic dialogue. His input to the film is perhaps the best outside of Jackson's cutting stare.
Jumper is set up as a trilogy, with two more novels to cover and a first-place finish at the Valentine's Day box office. This least-impressive Liman film has wings, although they are probably made of nothing more than wax. The script, characters and action remain borrowed and disjointed, but fortunately for the future, the sequel will not have much to live up to.