High concept ideas are often so obvious – hanging in front of everyone until someone turns a “what if?” into a book, screenplay or pitch and the world shakes as a million foreheads are thwacked in “why didn’t I think of that?” frustration. So it is with Jumper…
Who hasn’t imagined which superpower they’d love to possess and considered that, y’know, skipping the Tube to – WHOOSH! – neck cocktails in Hawaii might be a nifty gift? Tapping Steven Gould’s 1992 novel for inspiration, Doug Liman has made fantasy flesh, but Jumper is much more than a exercise in pure teenage wish-fulfilment. How much more will likely become apparent in parts two and three, should the ADD director – the man who started the mighty Bourne franchise only to jump ship as it took off – be bothered to return to explore the shadows cast in his effervescent sci-fi wonder.
For now though, Jumper is an invigorating, grin-inducing cine-frappe, cool and refreshing. Part one creates a world and races through it like a Skittles-stuffed toddler. The pre-credits square away the origins, then it’s – WHOOSH! – Hayden in his 20s, living it up in a life without consequences, pinging from bank vaults to landmarks to cross-continental one-night stands. Yes, he’s a morally ambiguous hero channelling a preternatural force that may alter the course of humanity… Yes, we’ve been here before. But whereas his Anakin showed less emotional range than the pimped-out wheelie bin he transformed into, Christensen delivers in Jumper. His character is angsty, adventurous and suitably self-centred without being bland.
And here he is the phantom menace – at least in the mind of Samuel L Jackson, who pops up with his fellow Paladins (read: Jumper-hunters) to try to stop Christensen’s bank-draining global joyride, suggesting that Jumpers have been responsible for much more sinister deeds in the past. “W-w-whhhy?!” asks one Jumper as Jackson is about to plunge a blade in his chest. “Because you are an abomination! Only God should have the power to be all places at all times,” growls Sam to his globe-hopping prey, his menace only slightly undermined by the revelation that his character’s name is, um, Roland.
So, there are hints at substance – the whole thing arguably a reflection on the narcissistic, too-much-is-not-enough leisure-lined lives of spoilt, first world Generation Y-ers who refuse to grow up (like, um, us). But mostly Jumper is about bitchin’ action, dude – from ‘jumping’ a double-decker to tele-racing around Tokyo. There’s an exuberance and anarchy often absent from movies of this scale – the Liman touch, the feeling anything could happen.
Christensen is backed by a brilliant Jamie Bell, bringing levity and depth to the terrier-like Griffin (a Jumper who bites back), while Rachel ‘that girl from The OC’ Bilson proves her casting as Hayden’s crush isn’t just an ironic nod to the subtext: she’s sexy but real, the ultimate girl next door. Watch, grin, repeat. Doug, please give us another Jumper.
Busting blocks with freshness and verve, the Bourne boy does it again. Jumper is audacious, absurd and hugely enjoyable. We can't wait for the empire to strike back.