Movie Review: Jumper

Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Doug Liman
Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson
Production Company: 20th Century Fox

Jumper means well, in the same way that a homeless guy steals your wallet. Actually, it’s just theft, and it’s criminal. And that’s how I felt after viewing Jumper. I felt like I had been robbed.

If not for the supremely successful Bourne Trilogy, Doug Liman probably would have never even got a hand in directing this movie, and unlike his Indy roots, he whole heartedly sacrifices substance for style. Not the best move, especially for a film that looks this pretty, and makes you wonder about the possibilities of teleportation. And Hayden cardboard-whiny-as-all-hell-Darth-fucking-Vader Christensen as the lead character, I found myself rooting for the villains half the time. Well, let’s jump into the review shall we? No pun intended.

Christensen is David Rice, a being capable of teleportation simply by envisioning the place in his mind. He just thinks about the place he wants to be, and he’s able to ‘jump’ there through a series of wormhole like teleportation devices that only he can access. This allows him to rob banks, go anywhere in the world, do pretty much anything with no consequences whatsoever, that is until Mace Windu shows up to shove a light saber up his ass! Oops…wrong flick. Samuel L. Jackson in his most cartoonish role with snow white hair and beard accomplishes being a complete dick to Rice within the first scene (so, really he’s not that bad of a guy!) Jackson, as Roland, is the keeper of keys of long…distance…travel. He’s part of a sect called the Paladins and has been hunting down ‘Jumpers’ just like David for a long, long time, in a galaxy far far away…dammit…you get the idea. He’s a major bad ass.

David first learns of his ability when being bullied at school (this part is thankfully not played by Christensen). Once he figures it out, he’s jacks a bank vault and is actually dickish enough to leave an IOU note for all the millions he’s stolen. From his first few clumsy jumps, he starts to use it to travel and steal more money – because, wouldn’t you? Around the second act, the Paladin’s ultimate bad ass Roland shows up to kill Rice, a welcoming act, as we’re never shown any kind of motivations behind Rice’s actions; and really, he is basically a villain since he’s got no moral compass, he does whatever he damn well wants. So, yes, I for one was glad to see Jackson lay the smack down on Vader’s candy ass.

I can’t really say a ‘chase’ ensues, whereby I mean David jumps to another place. A chase is something that’s done when two bodies are in motion, one after the other. This was a little different, in that Rice could just jump to Japan, 10,000 miles away from the people pursing him.

Oh yeah, they also force a romance between Rachel Bilson and Hayden Christensen. Because he takes her to Rome, a place she’s always wanted to go as a kid. And because she’ll put out if she’s given nice stuff, great moral compass…yeah. I’m sure the filmmakers wanted to convey ‘compassionate longing’ into the script but somehow ended up getting ‘golddigger’. I’m sure it was a slight oversight.

If not for the appearance of a second jumper, Griffin (Jamie Bell), David wouldn’t learn anything about his ‘highlander’ -like back story. Griffin, who really should have been the main characters, saves David from the paladins during a fight in the roman Colosseum. Hell, even a video game was made of Griffin rather than David at the helm – that should tell you something right there: who’s more marketable?

The visuals of Jumper were simply awesome; you really felt that David was jumping all around the world in the blink of an eye, or all over the screen. His ability brings forth many new dimensions of ‘what-if’s’ but the filmmakers ultimately don’t use that tool, and just turn the it into a love story that’s clumsy and at times, silly. The introduction of Diane Lane as the mother also felt entirely tacked on, and a grasping at air attempt for a sequel – it fails miserably.

If this movie proves anything, it’s that in the age of special effects, story stands out above all else. Without a good story and good cast, you just have an empty shell that’s vacuous and tries hard to be something it’s not: great.

5 out of 10

Movie Review: Hancock


Year Released: 2008
Directed by: Peter Berg
Starring: Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman
Production Company: Sony Pictures

Something must have happened during production on Hancock. I’m talking about the great first act, the build up of the character, the Superman complex: a God trapped in a man’s body, the initial hurdle Hancock had to overcome and the title character’s progression into becoming the God everyone needs, rather than everyone hates. It was artfully handled, I felt for Will Smith. His portrayal of a Superhuman trapped in the everyman’s world of L.A., a crime infested city where each time he helps, and he’s causing more property damage while trying to stop the bad guys. He’s an alcoholic, but we still like him. He’s easily hateable, but there’s the one guy that truly believes in him, and gets him to reform (Jason Bateman). Instead of being grateful, the city is more satisfied pointing out his drinking habits and the whole ‘flying-while-drunk’ problem. So, to reform, his newly self-appointed P.R agent Ray (Bateman) makes it his mission to create a friendlier, family centric, professional Hancock. On good faith, he asks Hancock to do some time in a federal prison; reluctantly he complies – until the mayor needs his help in a downtown bank robbery/ hostage situation.

“Didn’t y’all like ALI?”

Okay, so at this point I’m not giving away too much, but he saves the hostages, puts the bad guys in jail and treats the people he’s saving with much more dignity and respect. He even asks a lady cop if it’s “Okay to have physical contact with her”. Seriously. So, at this point, you’d think the movie goes into a nice blue sky where Hancock flies away and we’re all happy that he’s become a round character and overcome his demons.


Instead, we’re treated with what seems like a half finished storyline involving Charlize Theron being his super-being wife. The twist here is that they can’t be in too close contact otherwise they start to lose their powers. Cue in some weird tornado’s in downtown L.A. when the two fight each other, and the fact that even though the movie sets the ground rules that: the closer they are, the weaker they get, the movie does a great job of not following this formula.

“I sooooo need to piss.”

For instance: During the fight between Hancock and Theron, she at one point throws a dump truck directly on Hancock. He’s able to get back up, no problem. Later on, in a hospital part, he’s getting the snot beat out of him by a couple of thugs: and for some reason Theron feels Hancock’s pain(?). To say the least, the inconsistencies of powers, the magical additional events that happen when the couple is together, and the lack of support of story adds up to a dismal second act, and a confusing third act. The only saving grace for me was seeing Charlize Theron alongside Jason Bateman again: I was hoping for some reference to ‘Arrested Development’, sadly, I was disappointed.

So we have a movie with an A-list star, major blockbuster bucks and a great marketing campaign. The videos were viral, and the public was pumped to see this as it’s been in development hell for at least 5 years. And for a movie in development that long, it sure felt rushed. The mythos isn’t properly explained, the Wolverine-esque amnesia back story that’s conveniently never revealed by Theron is never flushed out. The additional element such as the heat given off from Hancock and Theron together isn’t explained, and neither is the fact of how they were made or what the exact origins are. I’m sure the movie was written this way to get the public salivating for more, but the way the subject is handled is clumsy and we’re more annoyed than curious.

That being said, if were to grade Hancock on the first 40 minutes, it would stand alone as a pretty good movie. Taken with all the parts, it’s much more baffling, rushed and incomplete.

5.0 out of 10.