By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox.
Jumper is Doug Liman's worst film but it's still fun. It's weaker in the story but still hardly a blemish in a career that spans indie and blockbuster favorites and even satisfying moderate movies.
Opening the film with narration is pointless and disrespectful, especially since all he says is exactly what's happening on screen. It's okay, we can get that he's teleporting. We just saw him go from the lake to the library. Are kids today so far gone that they don't even get visual storytelling? But since we never hear a narration ever again, that's no longer an issue.
I truly believe the teleporting is a new and inventive visual effect. Yes, we've seen an X-man go through the walls, but that was just once and not as a whole device for a movie. And they did it within The Matrix but this is happening in the real world. They give us some simple teleports for fun and the big ones for spectacle.
At least it really provides some nuanced action sequences. We've seen fight scenes, but shifting the fights all over the screen, using the environment is cool. It also makes it more special than just, "Look, we're in the Coliseum" or "Look, we're at the pyramids." They're actually doing something nuanced in the Coliseum and at the pyramids.
Liman shoots a lot handheld, perhaps trying to get revenge on Paul Greengrass, but it's not as choppy. Here it actually makes the effect cooler because it's got to be harder to do teleporting on shaky shots than computer controlled motions. It ups the ante on the visuals.
The most frustrating part of Jumper is the love story. The hero spends the entire adventure setting stuff up to impress his dream girl, but always looking totally sketchy. He seems like a scheming criminal and we know exactly what he's hiding. In a romantic comedy, we'd say dump him. The only redeeming quality of the relationship is that he puts her in danger and has to save her, so at least he's held accountable for something, but if they wanted us to swoon, he should have just included her in the fun.
The mommy issues are not exactly heartfelt and it's pretty outrageous that they never even hinted at exploring teleportation into the girls' locker room. It's too bad they never show anyone use the power for noble purposes, but hey, it's not Spider-Man. It seemed like it was going there, but they're clearly holding out for a sequel too.
Samuel L. Jackson should play more villains. He guts kids in this movie, so he really means business. If they won't let him complain about the motherf***in' kids teleporting around the motherf***in' world, at least he can be violent.