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Jumper (PG-13) *

Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson are trapped by the deadly Paladins.
Hayden Christensen and Rachel Bilson are trapped by the deadly Paladins.

By Rene Rodriguez

The best stuff in Jumper comes early, while the movie is still busy explaining its scenario. It’s only when all the pieces are in place and the story actually kicks in that things start to fall apart, and quickly.

The premise is simple: As a teenager, David Rice (Max Thierot) discovers he has the ability to teleport instantly, a skill he’s able to hone by the time he’s an adult (played by Hayden Christensen) to the point that he can teleport from New York to London for a Saturday night bar jaunt, head over to Fiji for some surfing action and be back in his Manhattan apartment in time for Sunday brunch.

David also learns early on he can teleport into bank vaults and teleport out with bagfuls of cash without anyone figuring out who stole the loot. Life is good — so good, in fact, that he can watch TV news coverage of hurricane disaster victims and can’t be bothered to help anyone.

That is, until Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), the white-haired leader of a group of paladins intent on eradicating David and all others like him, comes calling. From that point on, Jumper becomes a disappointingly formulaic chase picture between Roland and David, who teams up with a fellow jumper (Jamie Bell) to fight back against their increasingly aggressive hunters.

Director Doug Liman (Go, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, The Bourne Identity), who gives the film an energetic, frantic style, was striving for a hip, youth-oriented sci-fi/action hybrid that would lend itself to various sequels: The entire movie, in fact, often plays like the pilot episode of a TV series, since there are various plot strands intentionally left unresolved, such as the one involving David’s mother, played by Diane Lane, who may be a jumper or a paladin — or both.

Much time is also spent on David’s rekindling of his romance with his former high school sweetheart (The O.C.‘s Rachel Bilson). This involves a trip to Rome and some covert ”jumping” around the ancient grounds of the Coliseum. It’s all very CW Networkish, but also surprisingly haphazard and slapdash. The plot of Jumper is so peripatetic, always flitting from one thing to the next without satisfactorily exploring any of them, that the movie leaves you feeling a little jumpy yourself, and not in a good way.