Ask any respectable movie critic, and he will tell you the best movie in the “X-Men” franchise had to be “X-2: X-Men United.” I would agree with this, if only for the fantastic scene in which the teleporting Nightcrawler beats the living daylights out of the entire U.S. Secret Service.
If you feel similarly, then “Jumper,” Twentieth Century Fox’s film about humans with the power to “jump” anywhere in the world, is like crack for any fan boy suffering from Nightcrawler withdrawal.
Our story starts in the humble college town of Ann Arbor, Mich., where we find young David swooning over young Millie. Yet just as David finds the chutzpah to woo the lass, his fortitude is interrupted by – original plot alert! – a bully. Yes, some bully named Mark throws the snow globe David got as a gift for Millie onto a conveniently placed frozen river. David, in order to prove his love, sets out onto the river in defiance of Millie’s wishes and (collective gasp, please) falls in. Trapped, David tries hard, but to no avail, to pound up through the ice as the river carries him along, until he magically teleports himself and 50 gallons of water into the local library. Eventually comprehending his full power, David follows the natural course of running away from home and robbing a bank in an attempt to lead the good life he so richly deserves but has been so horribly denied.
Flash forward eight years, and David (Hayden Christensen) has used his considerable amount of his stolen wealth to purchase a sweet pad in Manhattan. But, alas, all is not perfect for the suave young adult. He, like several other “jumpers,” is being hunted down by a religious cult named Paladins that objects to the power that jumpers hold.
The leading man, Roland (Samuel L. Jackson, in full bleached-hair glory), tracks down David at last, forcing him to go on the run and, naturally, back home. David decides to track down Millie and see what’s become of her, finding out that – original plot alert! – she now works as a bar maid. The older, gorgeous Millie (Rachel Bilson) is still taken with David and, following another brief encounter with Mark, David takes Millie to Rome.
As David romances young Millie, he also runs into fellow jumper Griffin (the cheeky Jamie Bell) and continues to run from Roland. Along the way, we learn more about Griffin, more about David and his family and get to see more of Bilson.
The script by David Goyer (“Batman Begins”) and Jim Uhls (“Fight Club”) doesn’t seek to create character development, and perhaps it’s for the better. If I were looking for an action flick with depth, I’d watch “American Gangster.”
We don’t find out who the first jumper was (my bet: Moses, which would explain the Red Sea) or who the first religious objector to the jumpers happened to be. The audience is expected to buy the religious zealotry of the Paladins at face value because “no one but God should have that much power” and that Millie would up and leave Ann Arbor because a guy she hasn’t seen in eight years asked her out. What we should do is gasp at the special effects and the nifty tasers that the Paladins employ as weapons, as well as marvel at how awesome Roland is (to his credit, pretty awesome).
That this film could be compared to “X-Men” is ironic, since it borrows its plot almost entirely from “Spider-Man 3” and also, perhaps appropriately, from “Star Wars Episode III.” We learn nothing outside of Roland’s mantra that “There are always consequences!” Perhaps that would have been more useful to know before David went out onto the river.
Brenneman is a member of the class of 2009.