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Friday, March 22 , 2019, 12:53 pm | A Few Clouds 59º

 
 
 
 

Cinema in Focus: ‘Jumper’

This leap of faith is an exciting, if disturbing, journey into a fictional future.

2 Stars — Entertaining

The relativity of time was once a fantasy. But as science has progressed, many once-fictional ideas have proven themselves to be true. That is what makes the premise of Doug Liman’s Jumper intriguing.

The thought that a human being could, in a moment of extreme stress, control space and “jump” from one location to another is an interesting thought. The difficulty is that this film is less interested in the science and more interested in an artificial struggle between those who have the ability to jump and those who, for “religious” reasons, do not want them to do so.

The problem is this is not a war between good and evil, but rather one of self-righteous brutality against lawless extravagance expressed in a vicious hatred that is neither understandable nor necessary, and the two group’s murderous indifference toward one another is disquieting.

Based on a 1992 novel by science fiction writer Steven Gould, the film has some artistic differences to make the story more exciting. The leading character is David Rice (Max Thieriot at age 15 and Hayden Christensen at 18). David is a timid teen whose mother left him when he was 5 in the care of his abusive and alcoholic father, William (Michael Rooker).

He has a crush on his lifelong friend, Millie (AnnaSophia Robb at 15 and Rachel Bilson at 18), and presents her with an old snow globe with the Eiffel Tower because he knows of her love for travel. When a bully takes it from her and throws it out onto a frozen river, David faithfully and foolishly ventures out onto the thinning ice to retrieve it. Predictably it breaks, and he is drowning beneath the frozen surface. It is then that he realizes his ability to teleport as he suddenly finds himself and the surrounding water in the basement of the Ann Arbor library. Everyone thinks he has drowned until he decides to leave behind the snow globe on the swing set at Millie’s house while he explores his newfound ability.

This is the beginning of his tale. We won’t spoil the story by relating the discoveries David makes about his abilities or how they involve him in this historic battle between the jumpers and the paladins, but it is an exciting if disturbing journey.

One of the most unsettling aspects of the story is the explanation given by the paladin leader, Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), for his brutality. Having trapped a jumper with sophisticated equipment, Roland states that “only God should have this power” as he splits his torso with his knife. Later, Roland also kills a jumper’s family. If God were to care that a human has the ability to control space, why would he no longer care for their lives? It is no agent of God who would brutally kill even the family and friends of jumpers.

Perhaps, one day, humans will control time and space. If so, it will be a tremendous moment for us. The implications go far beyond the immature use of this gift as David expressed it. With travel no longer tedious and distance no longer a barrier, humans would be able to experience life in a whole new dimension. That this film didn’t even begin to explore such an amazing possibility is a loss, not only for those viewing it but also for the insights scientists have gained from the imagination of fiction writers. Perhaps someone else will take up this challenge.

Discussion:

1. If you could control space, what would you do with that ability? Do you think this will ever be possible?

2. The fact that David was 15 and on his own helped fuel his crimes of greed. Later, we realize his experience of having no limits had permeated his whole way of life. Do you believe a person could have this ability and not misuse it? Why or why not?

3. The loneliness David feels causes him in his distress to return to Millie. Have you ever had a similar experience? What happened after the crisis?

Cinema In Focus is a social and spiritual movie commentary. Hal Conklin is a former mayor of Santa Barbara and Denny Wayman is pastor of Free Methodist Church on the Mesa. For more reviews, visit www.cinemainfocus.com.

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