Leapin’ Liman

RUNNING TIME 90 minutes
WRITTEN BY David S. Goyer, Jim Uhls, Simon Kinberg, Steven Gould
STARRING Hayden Christensen, Samuel L. Jackson, Diane Lane

A piece of idiotic sci-fi piffle called Jumper looks like $90 billion wasted on 90 minutes of popcorn junk. Even the butter is phony.

Based on a book I never intend to read, this plotless confusion is about a 15-year-old Michigan high-school kid who falls through the ice and wakes up in a bank vault stealing millions by walking through the walls. Eight years later, ensconced in a New York penthouse decorated by the U.S. Mint, he has turned into Hayden Christensen—trying his best to outgrow his Star Wars image and failing miserably—now thoroughly assimilated in his role as a rare being who can miraculously teleport himself to any location in the world. These people are called “jumpers” because they jump from traffic jams in Tokyo to surfing in Hawaii before you can say “Huh?” One minute they’re hanging off a clock in London’s Parliament Square, the next they’re breakfasting at the foot of the Sphinx, and in between there’s time for a stop at the Eiffel Tower and sunsets in 20 different time zones. Nobody explains why. And for reasons only the scriptwriter knows but refuses to tell, nobody reveals why the jumpers are pursued by bloodthirsty maniacs called “palladins.” Samuel L. Jackson plays the king of the palladins. He tracks, stalks and kills all the jumpers. He’s the Buffy the Vampire Slayer of jumpers.

Between naps, I tried to think of positive things to say about jumpers. I mean, think how much money you could save on plane fares. You got enemies? Just teleport them with you to—oh, say, someplace like downtown Baghdad—and leave them there. But the movie did me in. Mr. Christensen has only two missions: to save his girlfriend back in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and to kill the palladins. Oops. It gets worse. For reasons even a major in logic couldn’t figure out, Diane Lane appears as the mother who deserted the boy when he was 5 years old. “So I’m a jumper. You’re a palladin. What now?” he asks. “I’m giving you a head start, son,” she answers. At my press screening, the critics were laughing so hard that I almost missed that line. Coherence has never been a strength for director Doug Liman, the hack responsible for the noxious Brangelina creep show Mr. and Mrs. Smith. He knuckle-heads himself to death here. It’s not easy to film Jumper in Egypt, New York, Prague, Ann Arbor, Baja, Toronto, Japan, the Sahara Desert and the Roman Colosseum, and make it all look like Burbank.