Nightcrawler’s teleporting in X-Men 2 provided arguably the most engaging action sequences in the entire film and left fans craving more in X-Men: The Last Stand. That encore performance unfortunately never materialized. So enter Doug Liman’s Jumper, a film whose core premise is driven by the gift of teleportation and the consequences of doing it. Based on the novel by the same name, Jumper turns the act of teleporting from a novelty in X-Men 2 into a regular body function like sweat. In theory, Jumper’s wild action and teleportation effects are what the Nightcrawler fanboys have been demanding for years. But in execution, Jumper’s wooden performances and rushed plot are too kinetic for the film’s own good.
Hayden Christensen stars as David, a young man who discovers the ability to “jump” to any location by picturing it in his mind. Overcome with the possibilities, David uses this ability to leave his train wreck of a father and rob banks so he can globetrot with limitless fortune. It’s the lush life for David until the Paladins, a sect of hunters sworn to wipeout the Jumpers, track down David and pursue him in one huge special effects extravaganza after another until the credits mercifully roll.
The trailers for Jumper promised huge action set pieces and Liman certainly delivered. Large objects are often pulled through the wake of jump points to create some hair-raising scenarios. Though there must be over 100 jumps shot including Hayden and another Jumper, the effect never grows tiresome as it’s been meticulously designed and executed.
Liman didn’t have much help providing genuine purpose to the slick teleporting special effects. Hayden proves yet again why his middle name should be legally changed to “cardboard” with a performance that makes Anakin Skywalker look like Scarface. Max Thieriot nails the David character in the opening flashback sequence as a cornered and troubled young man seeking an “out.” Then Hayden takes over in modern time and fails to convey a single emotion of fear, love or anything meaningful towards caring what happens to David. Too bad Max couldn’t “jump” forward a few years in age and star from start to finish.
Save for a paranoid performance by Jamie Bell as a seasoned Jumper, the remaining supporting cast must have made Liman wish he had past cast members Matt Damon, Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie on standby. Rachel Bilson as David’s love interest is about as believable as jumping in real life. Samuel L Jackson phones in an utterly boring performance as the white-haired Paladin leader, a far cry from his inspired performance in Black Snake Moan. Poor Diane Lane’s brief cameos are designed to set up a sequel, a complete waste of her talent. Let’s hope she can bring some energy and enthusiasm sorely missing in what is the setup for a potential trilogy.
In Jumper’s opening scenes is a crane shot that lays out the front grounds of David’s high school. There’s bright white snow on the ground, dark trees in the background, and a bright yellow school bus in the foreground. Every element in this shot has sharp edges, fantastic contrast and lifelike saturation that “jumps” off the screen.
This shot is the epitome of Jumper’s entire AVC MPEG-4 transfer. Whether filming on location in Rome, Egypt, the United States or on a soundstage, the image quality is never jeopardized by a cropped bit-rate or other visual anomaly. Even during the frenetic mult-jump sequences there’s never unnatural blurring or edge degradation. Fox has hit this transfer out of the park.
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is aggressive during the many action scenes with a bevy of jolting sounds to signify a jump is taking place or a Paladin is firing a shot of electricity into a Jumper. The mix backs off when the action subsides, becoming noticeably front heavy with little surround use. The next action scene, typically just around the corner, fills the room once again.
Fox has ensured a complete high definition experience by offering all the extra features in 1080p resolution. There’s enough material presented in different formats to quench the thirst of any viewer looking to expand their Jumper experience.
Commentary with director Doug Liman, Writer/Producer Simon Kinberg and producer Lucas Foster — This troublesome trio cracks three jokes by the time the Fox logo disappears. It’s clear they’re comfortable speaking casually amongst one another, which plays perfectly into not dozing off while they dissect the creative process that drove each scene’s construction and deviation from the novel.
Jumping Around the World Picture-in-Picture — This is available as both picture-and-picture and a standalone version for Blu-ray players lacking BD Bonus View from profile 1.1. The PiP version appears in the lower left on top of a map that shows where David is at that particular moment in the film. There’s a lot of crossover between what’s discussed here and the audio commentary, so sitting through both isn’t a necessity.
Jumpstart: David’s Story (8:07) — A narrated graphic novel of a David side story that is completely skip-able unless you’re really into animatics/comics.
Doug Liman’s Jumper Uncensored (35:34) — If there’s one must-see extra feature on Jumper then this is it. It’s always intriguing to watch a director “do their thing,” and this half-hour featurette follows Doug around like a fly on the wall.
Making An Actor Jump (7:36) — Rather than peek over the shoulder of an artist while they render CGI, this featurette explores the early tests to decide what a jump should look like and the real-world logic behind it. Definitely worth a look.
Jumping From Novel to Film (8:08) — The second half of this featurette explains how the Jumper story developed for the screen was written as a trilogy. Based on how Jumper ended and its box office take, a sequel seems like a foregone conclusion.
Six Deleted Scenes (11:17) — There isn’t much here other than a brief shot of one Jumper’s fate that would have appeared in the film’s closing scenes.
Previz: Future Concepts (4:34) — Not only did the filmmakers plan out three films, they developed at least one lengthy fight sequence for one of the sequels that’s viewable here in its animatic form. If this sequence makes it into the film, its conclusion is a fairly major spoiler.
Jumper’s high definition presentation is everything anyone could expect. The transfer is stunning, the audio is stirring when it needs to be, and the extras are both plentiful and presented in high definition.
The only strike is the film itself, a shallow example of lazy filmmaking relying on special effects to carry the load. There’s a fantastic premise here we’ve been teased with before, but it’s going to take a sequel on the level of The Empire Strikes Back to properly flesh it out.
- Score: 8