Coffee in Paris. Lunch in the Maldives. Kicking back in the afternoon ... on the forehead of the Sphinx. It's all in a day's "work" for David Rice, a "jumper" who has only to visualize his final destination to teleport there.
It all started the day David accidentally plunged through thin ice on a river in suburban Michigan. Instead of drowning, he suddenly found himself at the Ann Arbor public library. "Did I just teleport?" he wonders amid the stares of startled bookworms. Soon he masters his power ... and embraces a world of endless possibility.
David trades in his truly depressing home life—which includes a gruff relationship with his beer-swilling father—for a shot at the "good" life. Bank robberies fund a move to New York City and a lifestyle of unfettered hedonism: hooking up with beautiful women, surfing in the South Pacific, etc. As far as David is concerned, he's in heaven. "Why settle on one place," he asks, "when you can have the whole world?"
Until, that is, a mysterious man named Roland shows up at his swank apartment to put him on notice.
"Did you think it could go on like this forever?" Roland asks. "Living like this with no consequences? There are always consequences." David escapes Roland's first attack, then promptly looks up an old high school crush named Millie and whisks her off to Rome.
Once there, David meets another jumper, Griffin, who informs him that his power comes with a significant downside. Roland, David discovers, is a paladin, one of an ancient band of religious zealots whose sole purpose is to exterminate jumpers. And, Griffin informs him, they'll also kill anyone who gets in their way ... including unsuspecting girlfriends who haven't been clued in.
As Roland and his fellow paladins track David and Griffin, Millie unwittingly becomes the bait in a deadly game of cat and mouse, teleportation-style.
Though he's cast as the villain (and acts like one), Roland is right when he admonishes David that there are always consequences for our actions. David has some serious character flaws, as we'll see, but he does try to do right by Millie—first by sending her back to America without him (in an attempt to protect her), then by coming to her rescue after she falls into Roland's clutches.
When they're in high school, an awkward, slightly geeky David gives Millie a snow globe as a gift. She's not really interested in him at that point, but she responds kindly to him. As an adult, Millie evinces a desire for honesty in their fast-moving relationship when she asks David not to lie to her.
David's father, William, eventually tries to reopen the door of communication with his son, and tells David that he's free to come home any time he wants. William loyally tries to protect his son from Roland by refusing to divulge information about him, and he pays for that loyalty with his life. [Spoiler Warning] We learn that David's mother is actually a paladin who left her family so that she wouldn't have to kill her young son. She warns him about the paladins' approach in one scene and offers him time to escape in another.
Both David and Griffin come from families where they had little or no adult supervision. Thus, it's possible (if we really stretch things) to interpret their immature choices as a consequence of poor home lives.
Before killing a jumper, Roland tells him, "You're an abomination. Only God should have the power to be all places at all times," a line he repeats to David later. Griffin tells David that the paladins have hunted jumpers for centuries and that they're motivated by religious extremism. He says that these "religious nut jobs" were responsible for the Inquisition and the witch hunts, and he believes "they'll kill everybody." Roland is convinced that the jumpers' power has a corrupting influence on them, that they'll always use their powers selfishly—which, in fact, David has already begun to do. [Spoiler Warning] David has the chance to kill Roland, but he spares the paladin in an attempt to convince him that he isn't thoroughly evil.
David meets a woman at a London bar and later ends up in bed with her. It's implied that he's slept with her when we see him get out of bed (shirtless) and see her apparently naked form strategically draped with a sheet. In Rome, we watch as David and Millie begin to pull one another's clothes off. He's again shirtless, and we see her in her bra and pants as they kiss and paw at each other. That scene ends before they're completely undressed, but it's again implied that they've had sex. Millie also wears cleavage-revealing outfits.
Easily the most brutal scene in the movie is one in which Roland dispatches an unnamed jumper by stabbing him with a huge knife—a violent act that we fully witness. Elsewhere, the paladins trap jumpers using a club-like projectile that's connected to electrified coils of steel rope. The electric current restrains the jumpers and keeps them from teleporting long enough for the paladins to kill them.
Multiple fistfights are chock-full of savage hits and kicks. David gets tossed out of the upper level of his apartment onto a table below. Griffin unleashes a flamethrower on a group of paladins; we see the body of one of them in another scene.
In other violent moments, David falls through the ice and is swept downstream, unable to penetrate the ice above him. Later, he teleports most of Millie's apartment (with them in it) into a river. They're both temporarily trapped underwater before getting free. While learning to teleport, David hits a tree. Griffin and David teleport into a fierce gun and tank battle in Chechnya where David leaves his friend entangled in electrical wires because he refuses to help rescue Millie.
Griffin steals a Mercedes Benz by driving it through a showroom window in Tokyo, then proceeds to careen through town, repeatedly teleporting the car through traffic to avoid accidents himself while causing many of them in his wake. He also manages to pull a double-decker bus through a teleportation portal in a failed attempt to kill Roland. Griffin's philosophy toward the paladins could be summarized as, "Get them before they get us."
Crude or Profane Language
There's one f-word and six or seven s-words. Characters take God's and Jesus' names in vain two or three times each. Milder words include a handful of uses of "h---" and one of "b--tard." People blurt out "holy crap."
Drug and Alcohol Content
The woman David picks up at an English bar is drinking a gin and tonic. He orders Tanqueray and tonic. Millie works at a bar; she and David each have a Budweiser, while another old acquaintance of theirs is obviously drunk. David's father is usually shown with a beer in hand; one scene shows him finishing a beer and opening another.
Other Negative Elements
After stealing a lot of money from a bank, David asks the audience in voice-over narration, "What would you have done? I figured I'd pay it back some day." Right. David consistently acts as if the world owes him whatever he feels like taking. That applies to cash, women, surfboards and much more.
That theme is reinforced throughout. David breaks into the Colosseum in Rome to show Millie areas that are closed to the public. His rationale? "Nothing is off limits." Griffin's attitude seems pretty similar, as evidenced by his willingness to steal a car for the sole purpose of going on a crazy joyride.
Elsewhere, Griffin urinates on a wall. (We see him from behind.) And David gets into a fight as an adult with the jock who pestered him in high school. He ultimately teleports his old nemesis into a bank vault and leaves him there, where he's later arrested.
Lots of guys (in particular) will think Jumper looks like a lot of fun after watching its trailer. I did. Alas, this is a film in search of a plot ... and a purpose ... and, as it turns out, a moral compass.
Hayden Christensen (who plays David) zips this way and that through teleportation wormholes, but the story lacks much that might set it apart from the scores of special-effects driven actioners that have preceded it.
Still, it’s the hedonistic, consequence-free message that is the real deal killer. As mentioned, Roland pompously intones that there are always consequences for our choices. But David never faces any. By the end, he's got the girl and banished the bad guy. His repeated thefts, his immoral sexual stints, and his self-absorbed anything goes attitude are never challenged.
Forget Peter Parker's maxim, "With great power comes great responsibility." With David Rice it's more like, With great power comes great opportunity ... for me! Here's what he actually says: "This thing that just happened, it could set me free." Hmmm. Freedom to him means getting whatever he wants on his own terms—never mind legality, morality and responsibility. That message is perhaps most clear when we see him watching a news story about people drowning in a flash flood. It feels like a setup for him to go save some of them. But, er, nope. No self-sacrificial heroics here.
And I'm supposed to like this character ... why? Because Hayden Christensen once played Anakin Skywalker? Nah. Doesn't work.