Nondescript white man David (Hayden Christensen) discovers he has the power to teleport at will, but he knits off more than he can chew when he’s hunted down by a generic villain with a bad wig (Samuel L. Jackson).
Director Doug Liman spinds a yarn of cinematic ineptitude as jumps in space become jumps in logic thanks to bewildering editing and a nonsensical story which fails to do for knitting what Wanted did for weaving and The Matrix did for Weaving.
The woolly script never gives us any reason to root for David, who spends his time robbing banks and watching natural disasters unfold on TV. Jumper quickly starts to unravel, with a script by David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls and Simon Kinberg who wouldn’t know an arc if they were watching Evan Almighty.
Characters are introduced with no back-story, or even basic explanation, and plot details are wildly inconsistent from one scene to the next. Clearly you don’t expect a film like this to be Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, but given its low aspirations it should be possible to agree a cookie-cutter plot beforehand and stick to it. It features impressive set pieces, built around real landmarks, but the incontinent direction leaves an unintended sense of vertigo.
This betrays the shocking behind-the-scenes negligence on display in the “making of” documentary. Liman would rather strip off and jump in a tank than plan his scenes out properly. He’s shown arguing with his producer as the production spirals over budget, delaying the shoot to eat an ice-cream as the crew rushes to film at the Pantheon.
It’s horribly acted by Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson, but in their defence they were drafted in two weeks into the shoot as a cost-cutting measure. It’s not clear if the truly awful Jamie Bell has a similar excuse, while Samuel L. Jackson gives his least committed performance since Deep Blue Sea.
It’s not often a film makes you re-evaluate how bad films can be, but this jumped-up B movie is leaps and bounds beyond some of the other worst films made, resulting in a teleportation movie which fails to engage.