(director: Doug Liman; screenwriters: David S. Goyer/Jim Uhls/Simon Kinberg/based on the novel by Steven Gould; cinematographer: Barry Peterson; editors: Don Zimmerman/Dean Zimmerman/Saar Klein; music: John Powell; cast: Hayden Christensen (David Rice), Jamie Bell (Griffin), Rachel Bilson (Millie Harris), Samuel L. Jackson (Roland), Diane Lane (Mary Rice), Michael Rooker (William Rice), AnnaSophia Robb (Young Millie), Max Thieriot (Young David), Teddy Dunn (Mark Kobold); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Mr. Kinberg/Arnon Milchan/ Lucas Foster/Jay Sanders; 20th Century Fox; 2008)
“Incoherent, unimaginative and silly sci-fi thriller.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
This incoherent, unimaginative and silly sci-fi thriller about teleporters is based on the novel by Steven Gould and is directed by Doug Liman (“Go”/”Swingers”/”Mr. & Mrs. Smith”), a once promising filmmaker who has now settled nicely into a mediocre Hollywood career. It targets the 15 to 25 age-bracket with its CGI fantasy adventure tale that is marketed as a cross between the “Bourne” films and “The Matrix.”
It has its hero be a nerdy 15-year-old named David Rice (Max Thieriot). The Ann Arbor high-school student has been abandoned at five by his sensitive mother (Diane Lane), whose role in his life doesn’t come to light until the third act, and he has been unhappily raised by his gruff alcoholic father (Michael Rooker). At school David’s picked on by jock bullies, in particular by Mark Kobold who causes David to have a near death experience of nearly drowning when he falls into the semi-frozen Huron river retrieving a toy globe his dream girl High School friend Millie Harris (AnnaSophia Robb) showed him. Mark grabbed the globe out of his hand and tossed it in the river. With everyone assuming David is dead, the shy boy discovers he has the ability to will himself super powers to transport himself out of the frozen water and into the Ann Arbor public library. David then goes back home and rather than put up any longer with his abusive dad, vanishes to live in New York City. There he uses his superpowers to rob a bank vault of its fortune, without leaving a trace of how he managed to get into the secure vault without opening it.
Eight years later David (Hayden Christensen) lives in a luxurious Manhattan apartment and opts to live a jet-setter life (without getting on a jet) of adventure by going all over the world through use of his superpower—as he surfs in Fiji, dines atop the Great Sphinx in Egypt, picks up a good-looking chick in a swinging nighttime London pub and has breakfast in Tokyo. But things take a different turn when Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), a Paladin (an ancient Templar society made up of religious fanatics dedicated to eradicating from the world all jumpers because their powers are an affront to God) shows up in his life.
The menacing white-haired Roland uses high-tech gadgets to trace David to Rome, as the lad inexplicably returned to Ann Arbor to reunite with now barmaid Millie (Rachel Bilson) and obnoxiously shows off his success by taking her on a luxury trip to Rome—the place she always wanted to visit. When the irresponsible and self-absorbed David’s traced there through Millie, he’s trapped by Roland’s Paladin cronies only to be saved by fellow-jumper Griffin (Jamie Bell). He’s on a mission to eliminate the Paladins who are tracking the many Jumpers and to explain to the viewer the plot points.
The outlandish story might appeal to adolescents looking for cool escapist thrills, but the screenplay by David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls and Simon Kinberg is so inadequate that the story flounders in all its incoherent and emotionally uninvolved moments making it a dull and incomprehensible watch. In addition it comes with a truncated ending that left the film feeling unfinished. Someone got it all wrong—take your pick, as it could be any or all of the following: studio suits messing with it, poor acting, director ineptitude or just a lousy script.
REVIEWED ON 2/16/2008 GRADE: D