Ignore the previews. Unless there was a drastic change of story-line in the editing room at the last minute, the final cut is a lot more interesting than originally advertised.
After being picked on by bullies in middle school, a life-or-death situation reveals to David Rice (Hayden Christensen) that he has a unique skill: teleporting. Even in and out of a sealed vault, David can go there, and even take a reasonable amount of cargo in and out with him (money, motorcycles, or whatever). Years later after David reaches adulthood, a man named Roland (Samuel L. Jackson) is waiting for David in his apartment. Not only does Roland know what David can do, he also knows how to stop him… permanently.
Jumper is not the movie advertised in the trailers bearing its name; it’s better than the ads. From its opening scenes, this film begins to lay out the concept of a world where teleportation is not only possible but real. It also sets boundaries and explains the rules as Hayden Christensen’s character discovers them. By carefully weaving the plot around the rules and following them, Jumper starts to suggest possibilities that thinking viewers can follow along and predict, drawing them deeper into the story. Future sci-fi filmmakers, take note: this level of attention to detail is what your audiences are looking for.
The story not only takes a twist when Sam Jackson’s character shows up (revealed in the trailer) but also when another jumper, Griffin, is discovered (Jamie Bell). This character fills in a few blanks but has also been playing “the game” longer, providing warnings about who he’s up against but not much for what to do about it. What is being suggested is perfectly teased, creating many possibilities and, of course, eventual sequel potential. The price of having the power to do anything and go anywhere you want is making yourself a target, and that doesn’t go well with keeping close friends and family (as illustrated by both Rachel Bilson and Diane Lane’s characters).
Jumper lays a lot of groundwork for a potential series. We’re shown what life would be like simply living day to day doing whatever, whenever you want. What is not shown is how a jumper might apply oneself rather than cater only to their own concerns. It’s even harder to draw the lines between good guys and bad guys here, especially since the “heroes” seem to all be thieves and the “villains” seem awfully well funded. Here’s hoping that this isn’t the last installment and that the cast is affordable enough to go around a second or third time. There’s a good thing going on here, so don’t screw it up.
(a three skull recommendation out of four)