With the American economy in abysmal shape, where many are trapped in unfulfilling jobs that pay the bills but don’t reflect their hopes and dreams, it’s understandable that Jumper was made. The young hero, David Rice (Hayden Christensen, coasting along on charm), reflects a fantasy of getting away from it all: Living in a posh and spacious New York apartment, off wealth he never worked for, he’s also a superhero with the ability to teleport. He uses this power for globetrotting adventures of individualistic self-interest, like surfing off the Australian coast, eating lunch on top of the Sphinx, sneaking into off-limit parts the Roman Coliseum, and enjoying sushi in Tokyo all in the same day. But his hedonistic life starts falling apart when his secret is uncovered by a covert agency of religious fanatic assassins (led by Samuel L. Jackson), who declare full-scale war on him using an arsenal of high-tech tracking devices and electronic tasers. Now aware of the ramifications of his power, he doesn’t opt for using it for the greater good of society; instead, he tracks down his high school crush (Rachel Bilson) and starts having adventures with her. Even though he lies to her, places her life in danger, and generally behaves like a deceitful leech, this being the Great American Fantasy, he is able to ultimately have his cake and eat it too.
Jumper would be lame simply on the basis of its under-written characters and slack attitude toward the hero’s adventures (the action scenes may be as sleek and colorful as car commercials, but they’re so pedestrian in their staging and cutting that I found myself focusing on the travelogue cityscapes instead of watching the characters, which made me wonder if this movie was funded by international tourism boards), but the lazy regard for David’s moral crisis, or lack thereof, is pitiful. While Spiderman has to wrap his addled teenage head around the notion that with great power comes great responsibility, David wonders how best he can lie to his girlfriend about himself and keep her in his back pocket; even after she learns the truth, his primary concern is finding the way to keep her in his orbit with the bare minimum of embarrassed apology. I haven’t been so disgusted with the hero of a mainstream Hollywood offering since Russell Crowe had to struggle between choosing his high-income job as an investment broker and making a lot of money off of his winery and chateau. In other words, these people are wondering what selfish bit of wish fulfillment they want “right now.”