Common Sense Media Review
David (Hayden Christensen) is a jumper. At the outset of the film, it's unclear exactly how that happened, but what it means in practice is that he can teleport from place to place all over the globe, from the Sphinx to the Empire State Building. He eventually learns that he's not the only one; his is a genetically determined superpower that has been granted over centuries -- and has ignited a longstanding hatred by an organization of bullies known as the Paladins, who resent and fear the jumpers' abilities. Chief among these is Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), who is fiercely hunting David, determined to kill him and all of his friends and family -- including childhood crush Millie (first played by AnnaSophia Robb, then by Rachel Bilson), abusive father William (Michael Rooker), and absent mother Mary (Diane Lane). It's up to David to save Millie, find his mom, and figure out his place in the world.
Though it's based on a science-fiction novel by Steven Gould, Doug Liman's movie feels very comic booky, punctuated by action scenes, a car chase, explosions, and shoot-outs -- none of which are very original or visually compelling, despite the seemingly singular notion of "jumping." It doesn't help that Christensen makes a vague protagonist, with his motivations for stealing money from banks or beating up bullies remarkably banal (essentially, he does it because he can). Though he gets nervous when Roland shows up with a big electric stick that's part cattle prod and part taser, he's blown off the screen (metaphorically) when another jumper, Griffin (Jamie Bell), shows up.
Witty, wise, and charismatic, Griffin is a more exciting potential hero than David, but he's mostly used as a source of information: He has actually looked into what it means to be a jumper and has learned history, considered moral responsibilities, and even figured out a strategy for resisting the Paladins. David is less able to consider nuances, but that's what makes him a "hero" -- at least in his own mind. As he says, "I used to be normal, a chump like you." Now, he's considerably less interesting, even if he doesn't know it.
What Parents Need To Know
Parents need to know that this sci-fi action adventure with Star Wars' Hayden Christensen features lots of violence that appears to have little effect on victims. The teleportation process causes abrupt ruptures in space and time and sometimes rams jumpers into walls or the ground. Fights show bodies slamming, falling, and crashing through walls, as well as gunfire and electric zapping. There are also explosions, a car chase, and a combat zone in the background. One scene suggests that sex has taken place (a woman's naked back is visible in bed); another shows a couple taking off their shirts (her bra stays on) and kissing. Language includes "s--t" and "hell."
Families can talk about whether this movie can be considered a "superhero" story. What makes a character a superhero? What do most movies about superheroes have in common? Does this film follow that trend? Do you think of it more as an action movie or a sci-fi movie? Why?
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