Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens, 12A
Watch out for him, love – he's all over the place
Sunday 17 February 2008
Jumper has nothing to do with knitwear, although there is quite a bit of woolly thinking behind it. Its hero is a bullied teenager who discovers one day that he has the power to teleport anywhere in the world – even in and out of a bank vault. Eight years later, he's played by Hayden Christensen, who's suspiciously trim for someone who zaps himself to the fridge instead of walking three steps across the floor. He's used his ill-gotten gains to buy a New York penthouse, but he doesn't spend much time there. A typical day consists of nightclubbing in London, surfing in Australia, and breakfast on the head of the Sphinx. It's oddly similar to The Bucket List's vision of instant-travel wish-fulfilment.
But Christensen is being pursued by the "paladins", a secret organisation headed by Samuel L Jackson, which is devoted to exterminating "jumpers" for obscure religious reasons. A mumbling Jamie Bell appears as another jumper, who's been driven insane by his unconventional lifestyle, and Rachel Bilson plays a perfunctory love interest. Having disappeared from their home town eight years earlier, Christensen meets her in a bar, and is tearing her clothes off in a hotel room in Rome within seconds.
It's not surprising that a film about teleporting should be disjointed, but Jumper skips jerkily all over the place without ever settling on who it's aimed at, or whether the story has any purpose except to link up the special effects. One of the best sequences has Bell screeching through Tokyo in a sports car, using his power to hop ahead of – and above – the other cars on the road. It might be thrilling if he were chasing someone or being chased at the time, but he isn't. Bell is showing off for no particular reason, and so is the director, Doug Liman.
As for the paladins, they're just as sketchy as the companies Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie worked for in Liman's last film, Mr and Mrs Smith. How come they can leave a trail of death and devastation without being arrested? If they've been operating for hundreds of years, how did they ever catch the jumpers before they had hi-tech electronic weaponry to even the score? And, more importantly, whose idea was it to lumber Jackson with snow-white hair and a collarless tunic?
These questions – and the vapid teen dialogue – might not worry anyone if Jumpers were a Fantastic Four-style comic-book caper, but Liman gives the film the same gritty, earnest tone as he did The Bourne Identity, which does nothing but remind us that the concept of plain-clothed, real-world superhumans has already been done more ingeniously in TV's Heroes. The only facet of the film that's clear and consistent throughout is that Christensen's character is a cold, selfish, sleepy-voiced, expressionless git. One of the film's many unanswered questions is why no one tells him to go jump in a lake.
Annie Leibovitz: Life Through a Lens is a snapshot of the photographer taken by her younger sister, Barbara Leibovitz. It follows her work from the candid, black-and-white reportage she did for Rolling Stone in the 1960s to the expensive tableaux she constructs around movie stars and presidents for Vanity Fair and Vogue today. There's a theme in there somewhere about how countercultural rock'*'roll has been co-opted by the mainstream, but Life Through a Lens doesn't dig it out.
It refers to her drug use and her personal life, but glosses over any analysis of her photography or the philosophy behind it. Like Leibowitz's portfolio, the film is stocked with celebrities, from Jagger and Richards to Hillary Clinton. But it only shows its subject's surface.
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