Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Superhero Media: Jumper

What is it with this sub-genre that I keep seeing films where the natural protagonist is relegated to secondary status in favour of a bland male who can't drive the plot? Both Kick-Ass films, Man of Steel and even The Dark Knight present a protagonist around whom the narrative does not take place and I'm getting a little sick of it. Let's deal with the elephant in the room first, I actually don't think Hayden Christensen is a terrible actor. Sure, the Star Wars prequels were nothing decent, but in the few places where Christensen gets to act without the stilted dialogue, he's not bad; think about the raid on the Jedi Temple, there's some decent physicality there. Even in Jumper, the first sequence after the credits, with the globe-trotting adventures and enviable lifestyle of the protagonist, Christensen shows that he really knows how to move in the space the camera provides. Shame about the rest of the film. 

The problem with Jumper isn't so much the cast, but the baffling setting and how the film fails to justify it. Naturally, I'm fine with the conceit that some people are born with the ability to "jump", teleport anywhere they can see or visualise, but why are they being hunted by the Catholic Church? Even taking into account the oddball things that the Vatican get up to in comics already (think Preacher, Black Panther or Hellsing), the wholesale genocide of a group of people merely because they can teleport and sometimes steal is pushing it a little. To do this they have access to a wide variety of advanced technology, which can track Jumpers through portals, stop them from jumping and basically whatever the plot needs to happen. Christensen plays David, a Jumper only recently tracked down by the church, whose motivation revolves around his realtionship with a childhood crush and keeping her safe. The other "allied" Jumper is Griffin, a man who saw the church kill his family as a child and slowly wipe out all of his peers over years, staying alive on luck and smarts and planning his revenge. 

Broken record and all that, but why does the story follow David and not Griffin? I'm not saying that a particular actor or part is "better", but why, at a script level, is the better story given to a support character? Who looked at the final draft and thought it was a good decision? As Hollywood is renowned for failing to take any risks, I'm not shocked that the decision was made and the more interesting narrative was sidelined. It made the film a lot worse than it should have been, or at least could have been. I'd actually be quite happy to see a remake of Jumper with the story being more along the lines of Griffin's narrative, because the visual style of the film and the fun that can be had with teleportation as a super power really need another go at being something decent. 

No comments:

Post a Comment