When you hit the theater there was high anticipation and much critical disappointment; a disappointment I am rightfully accused of buying into and, as such, automatically dismissing you out of hand. Well, as is bound to happen with a huge Netflix queue, you show up at my door as the awkward accidental forgotten rental. However, at his point I am about as neutral as can be.
As I start to watch you, the early broken family tropes are succinctly established and the awkward school kid has quickly and seamlessly jumped into an awkward on the inside young adult. But in this case the difference is the jumping. Ah yes, the jumping. That neat teleport phenomenon based on visually oriented spatial displacement. Which is a fancy way to say, if you can see it, you can jump to it. Of course that’s not all there is, as we find out later, but it is in my mind one of the grandest extra-sensory gifts you can receive!
It’s at this point where many critics lament the choice of narrowly skilled Hayden Christensen as the main character, and this is my first divergence from prior opinion. I find the slightly smoldering with awkward uncertainty just under the surface portrayal of David to be spot on. Most don’t think of his character in the terms of dysfunction, but it colors all he does. It lends itself to the amoral actions, the comfort with twisted ethics, and the later propensity to sophomoric posturing, unrequited teen ardor and violent tantrums. Hayden pulls it off quite well thank you.
When we find out about the Paladins, and the thousand year history, and of the life-and-death, ceaseless war they wage against Jumpers, the gift suddenly takes on a less than fairy tale ‘live life as you want’ feel. Of course, since the war is church driven everybody you know or have known or are related to you are dead people in the end, or at least until they kill you. Its like a personal inquisition, exorcism and Vatican Mafioso contract all rolled into one. About this time he predictably and stupidly goes back home and makes his first and potentially last mistake by looking up the long lost love he never had, Millie. After a few close calls and a meet up with a tweeked fellow jumper by the name of Griffin, David gets clued into the never ending war.
Things pick up quick from here. When Griffin saves David at a Rome Paladin encounter, we start to see that jumpers leave trails and when David follows Griffin he learns Millie is likely dead or very close to being found and killed and David finally gets a reluctant Griffin to aid his plight. Obviously, her place is covered and they trap him but Griffin is the wild card and it gets wooly from there.
As the film closes and he drops Paladin Roland (played well by Samuel L Jackson) in very, very remote locale, he reminds him that he could have dropped him off to the sharks and it underscores that David really is different. If that’s not enough to blur the lines, finding his mysterious mother and finding out who she really is just adds an exclamation to the point.
As Millie asks him to take her somewhere warm I realize that you ended up growing on me. Though you may not have been great, you were good and as such may serve as inspiration for something better down the line for stories of this ilk! A solid effort.