Friday, January 08, 2010

Holding Out For a Hero; Or Why Jumper Doesn't Work

I got caught up on a lot of movies in the last month. Hence outdated posts like this one...

JUMPER is a lame movie in many, many ways, but I’m going to focus on just one reason why it doesn’t work – because it is a reason that crops up a lot these days.

It comes down to theme – the movie doesn’t answer the big question that it asks of itself.

SUPERMAN RETURNS was plagued by the same problem – it hit us over the head with the big question, as Lois writes “Does the world need a Superman?”

And then answers, “Uh, not really.” The only positive thing that Superman accomplishes is to fix a problem that only came to earth because of, well, Superman.

And so it is with JUMPER - it doesn't answer its big question in a satisfying way.

For those who didn’t see the movie (wise though you are), JUMPER is about a kid (David) who discovers he has the super power to teleport anywhere in the world he can imagine. And David uses those powers for purely selfish gain, breaking into banks and sating any physical desire his whim comes by.

Standard set up for super power movies – Peter Parker initially used his gifts for self-centered gain. And JUMPER does indeed want to ask the big question.

Before the action gets hot and heavy, David is in his apartment surrounded by his stuff, listening to a news report of a flood. The reporter shows stranded people, claiming they are going to die, because there is no way for anyone to get to them.

Aha! A jumper could get to them! Question asked in subtext: will David learn that with great power comes great responsibility, and become a hero? Well, this is a super movie, so of course…


The question of being a hero comes up once more, as another Jumper tells David that Jumpers aren’t heroes (despite the fact that said Jumper, Griffen, turns out to be the only one that acts heroically in the movie); so one would think that David would at least toy with the idea of being a hero.

But David continues to act only out of self-interest, all the way through to the closing credits when he and his girlfriend announce that now they are free to do whatever they want with his power, and they are going to continue seeing the world, robbing banks and feeding their selfish desires.

To be fair, he does do one thing – which I hope the creators don’t think makes David a hero, but a lot of people out there do get confused about – and that is he saves his girlfriend.

However, it’s not an action motivated by selflessness; rather he does it because he wants to possess her – he can’t stand to lose her.

Imagine if we substituted any other possession for the girl, would we consider it heroic?

David risks his life going back into the burning building to get his X-box. Heroic?

Maybe if it was someone else’s X-Box. Maybe if he was willing to trade his own life so the X-box could live. But because he really wants to possess the X-box?

Not so much.

It’s almost worth getting behind the villain of the piece, who hunts down Jumpers because he is convinced that there is only negative value to their existence (David tries desperately to prove him right).

JUMPER asks the question – is there any responsibility that comes with power?

And it answers it with a “eh., why bother?”

Just my thoughts,


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