After directing a pair of solid independent films (Swingers and
Go) Doug Liman burst into the big time with The Bourne Identity,
an excellent action thriller that managed to capture all of the excitement
of the Bond films and had an enticing mystery. His follow-up to that
hit was Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a rather pedestrian film that should
have been much better than it was given the premise, stars, and budget.
His latest theatrical effort has just made its way to DVD and Blu-ray:
Jumper. Like Mr. and Mrs. Smith, the film has an interesting
premise and an upper-8 figure budget, but also like Liman's previous effort,
it just doesn't make the mark.
David Rice (Hayden Christensen) is a fairly ordinary 15 year old kid.
He's shy around girls, he doesn't get along with his dad, and though his
mom left them when he was 5, he's fairly well adjusted. That's until
he discovers that he can 'jump'. He has the ability, never explained,
to instantly transport himself to anyplace he's ever seen, even if it's
only in a picture. So after getting into a fight with his father,
David jumps away for good. He gets money by jumping into bank vaults
in the evening and stealing piles of cash. Of course he's not a bad
guy, so he leaves them hand written IOUs.
Eight years pass and David is living high on the hog. He has a
fancy apartment in a high rise, all the possessions he wants, and a closet
full of gold and money in different currencies. He's no longer shy
around girls and can easily pick up the hottest chicks in any bar.
(An ability that he must have gained when he learned how to jump.)
Things are going well until David comes home one day and finds Roland
(Samuel L. Jackson) in his apartment. He's a Paladin, the sworn enemies
of Jumpers, and his mission is to kill David. First however, he wants
to find out if David is plugged into a Jumper network and knows the identities
of others with his abilities. (Presumably just the jumping...I assume
he lets guys who score a lot live, but you never know.) It would
seem that the Paladins have no chance against Jumpers, but they've discovered
their weakness: electricity. If they are shocked, they can't
jump and the Paladins have a whole array of weapons that will deliver paralyzing,
but non-lethal jolts.
Barely escaping with only his life and a backpack full of money, David
decides to go to the only place in the world that the Paladins could possibly
find him: his old home town to look up the girl he used to like,
Millie (Rachel Bilson). She's a hottie, doesn't have a boyfriend,
and though she hasn't seen this guy for eight years and knows nothing about
him, decides to get on a plane to Rome with him that very day. (She
could have a passport, I guess, but why would David? Oh yeah, and
he takes his backpack full of cash through airport security and none of
the TSA agent find it strange.) Trailed to Rome, David has to escape
from the Paladins and keep his girl friend safe from danger, while Roland
gets ever more intent on killing the young man.
This is almost a good movie. It has an interesting concept, but
the script is just too bland and full of holes to work. Even if you're
barely paying attention you'll spot multiple continuity errors. (Just
a couple of the more egregious ones: Roland goes flying out of the
window in Millie's 2nd floor apartment, while on fire no less, and 15 seconds
later he's back in her living room. Another Jumper, Griffin (Jamie
Bell) jumps into a war zone while riding in a taxi. They land and
the driver is at the wheel, the next shot he's gone, never to return.)
Plot holes are fairly common too. (So, how did the Paladins kill
Jumpers in the middle ages without the use of electricity? You would
think the Paladins would have been wiped out.) Much of David's actions
make no sense either. That makes it really hard to suspend your disbelief
and just enjoy the film for what it is.
I can look past that however. If the characters are engaging a
few minor inconsistencies aren't fatal. In this movie however bland
is the key word. David has no personality, or more accurately it
changes from scene to scene. As the film opens he loves being a rich
playboy. Soon after, for no reason, he wants to settle down.
He's shallow as a person, and very dull. Even if he was an ass hole
he would have been more interesting. What type of bank robber leaves
IOUs, and why did he think he'd ever pay them back?
Millie is no better, she's basically there to be a hostage, and the
two main characters have no chemistry at all. What's surprising is
that Samuel Jackson's character is equally drab. It's like he was
working to make his role boring.
This isn't a totally worthless film however. It does have some
redeeming value even if the plot and characters are unappealing.
The premise is nice, and the beginning, when David is showing how he lives,
it's kind of fun. The action sequences are also well done and the
writers did come up with some interesting uses of jumping in a fight.
If only it didn't have a hole riddled plit, flat characters and a deus
ex machina ending it would have been a great flick.
The Blu-ray Disc:
Even though this is a recent release, I wasn't expecting a lot from
this Blu-ray disc. After all, the movie was filmed in several different
countries with different crews in each country. Even with the 2nd
unit director and DP being constants, it would be hard to maintain an even
look through the film. That's what this film does however and
it looks great. The 2.35:1 image has an AVC MPEG-4 encode and looks
really good. The plot didn't really pull me in, so I spent a lot
of time looking at detail, the snow on the ground in Ann Arbor, the sand
in the Sahara, and the surface of the buildings in China. In all
cases the level of detail was excellent with grains of sand being seen
as easily as the texture of melting snow.
The colors were also nice...not overly tweaked in post-production (something
I hate) and glaringly bright, but natural and even. The flesh tones
looked nice and not artificial, and the whites were bright without being
crushed. The black levels were very good, but there were a few scenes
where I would have preferred them to be just a tad more deep and inky.
Digitally things also looked great. There aren't any compression
artifacts and the most common digital flaws are not present. Even
in the action scenes where several 'jumps' and wormholes were taking place
in rapid succession the disc was able to keep up. Though this film
isn't my favorite, I there really isn't anything wrong with the disc.
This movie comes with a DTS-HD Master Audio track that is quite impressive
during the action scenes. When David jumps, there's a nice room-filling
*Pfffzzzzzt* that employs all the speakers nicely, and the fights
really make full use of the soundstage. While some of the aural effects
are very nice (I liked the way the electric stick sounded when they charged
and went off) when the action stops the mix throws too much sound to the
front. In some of the dialog scenes the voices are anchored to the
screen a bit too much. That's not a huge deficit, but it is a little
disappointing when compared to the battles.
This BR disc has a nice selection of bonus items, which are even more
appealing since they're all offered in HD! Thanks Fox, us viewers
First off there's a commentary by with director Doug Liman, writer/producer
Simon Kinberg and producer Lucas Foster. Not a bad commentary, they
joke around and talk about the production. At one point someone (Liman?)
mentions that this film was faithful to the source material, but that they
only kept one scene from the graphic novels. They re-imagined the
rest, using the characters and they way that they'd react, as portrayed
in the books. Me thinks this is where they went wrong. Why
throw out a good story and replace it with an ill conceived plot like this
one? Liman also makes the claim that this film is really just an
independent movie, with a large budget. Yeah, right. Keep telling
There's also Profile 1.1 picture-in-picture option; Jumping Around
the World. If, like me, you don't have a player that supports
1.1 and you don't have a PS3 (which is what I use for 1.1 discs), there
is a stand alone version available, which is a nice addition. I'm
not sure what I think about these P-in-P commentary tracks yet. While
I thought the one in Sunshine was good, and the one in Resident
Evil: Extinction pretty lame, this one fell in the middle.
In general I feel that these pop-up facts and videos are too intrusive
and distracting. There are some interesting tidbits that pop up,
and I enjoyed the map showing just where David was, but it really didn't
do much for me. A lot of the info was contained on the commentary
track, so it wasn't as exciting or informative as it could have been.
Doug Liman's Jumper Uncensored is a 35 minute look at the production
of the film. This follows the director around as he sets up scenes,
talks to the cast and crew, and generally does his thing. If I was
interested in the director or film, I might have found this more interesting
but as it is, it was just so-so. That's followed by Making an Actor
Jump, a seven minute featurette about the creation of the jumping effect
and discussions about what it should look like. This was more interesting.
Jumping from Novel to Film: The Past, Present, and Future of
Jumper is pretty much what the title suggests, a look at the adaptation
of the graphic novels and hints of a sequel movie. There's also six
deleted scenes that were deservedly cut (with one possible exception),
Previz: Future Concepts, an anamatic for a scene for a possible
sequel, Jumpstart: David's Story, an animated graphic novel story
that is not recounted in the movie, and a D-Box Motion Code for those people
who have that company's motion chairs and a decoder.
Oh yeah, this also includes a second disc with a digital copy of the
movie so you can watch it (in standard def) on an ipod or laptop.
This is one of those movies that could have been a lot of fun, but the
multiple flaws just make it a bland offering. It has an interesting
premise that is developed well, but the lifeless characters and countless
goofs and plot holes makes it hard to take seriously. The Blu-ray
disc does do a good job at presenting the film, and looks much better than
I was expecting. This would make a good rental.
Note: The images in this review are not from the Blu-ray disc and do
not necessarily represent the image quality on the disc.