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                                    “Jumper”

           

            What would you do if you suddenly found out that you had the capacity to transport yourself instantly, anywhere on earth, just by envisioning the place where you’d like to be instead?

            David Rice (Hayden Christensen) seems to be a normal messed-up teenager.  His family life is dysfunctional, and he seems to have no close friends.  He has a crush on a girl, he’s awkward around her, he tries to give her a little present, her boyfriend sees it and mocks him in front of everyone else, and he is mortified.  But it was the trauma of falling through the ice pond that projected him violently on to….the floor of the public library?

            Poor picked-on, put-upon David discovers that he has an extraordinary power that other people don’t have:  he can transport instantly, or “jump,” virtually anywhere he can envision.  First, awkward with his newfound skill, he bumps into a few things.  But then, with a little practice, he’s zooming off to the top of Big Ben, or The Sphinx, or whatever exotic locale he’d like to visit.  Since the last time everyone saw him was falling through the ice, everybody assumes he’s dead, so it’s very convenient to just disappear.  It’s also very convenient to envision yourself inside a bank vault and help yourself.  (Yes, you can learn to carry some things with you in your zip-travel, but larger items take more practice.)

            Several years later, our awkward teenager is now a young man, full of the confidence and bravado of having everything money can buy, and never having to answer to anyone.  It seems like the devil’s own bargain, in that David seems to lack any conscience, remorse, compassion, or anything resembling a soul.  Like a spoiled child, he does what he wants when he wants, and only bothers to be polite when it suits him.

But our slacker’s dream world is about to have some unwanted visitors.

            Enter Roland (Samuel L. Jackson), who variously poses as a police officer, an FBI agent, and an IRS agent, depending on where he wants access, or, if all else fails, just knock somebody over the head.  He and his gang of “Paladins” are after any “Jumper” they can get their hands on, which in itself isn’t easy, but they’ve developed a few tricks.  They’ve discovered that sending an electric current through the “Jumper” short-circuits their tele-transport capacity.  And they’ve also developed some machine which will detect a recent opening in the “force field” and allow them to pursue the “Jumpers.”  In the course of the pursuit, David discovers that there is someone like him, a Jumper named Griffin (Jamie Bell) who assures him that all Paladins are the enemy, and must be destroyed, and this battle-to-the-death has been going on for centuries.

            This is a little too much responsibility for David to handle---his little self-indulgent fantasy world has now been compromised.  So he returns to the only other people he cared about---his Dad (kinda), and yes, that high school girl that he always pined over.  But David wasn’t realizing what kind of danger he was putting them in by leading the Paladins to them.  So now David runs, never having a chance to explain anything to his Dad, and having to try charm on Millie (Rachel Bilson), who’s understandably having trouble catching up with a reality different from the one she’d always known.

            In between the 3-D chase scenes, we get a little romance in Rome , lingering around the Coliseum, where Millie always wanted to go, but mostly, in this film, we’re having too much fun playing with our tele-transport toy, and pursuing our chase scenes.  David’s long-lost Mom ( Diane Lane ) makes a surprise appearance (yes, it’s like inheriting a large dose of The Force from an absent parent), but there are some unpleasant surprises there, as well.  Ironic that Hayden Christensen played Anakin Skywalker in the “Star Wars” series, also dealing with the dynamic of having extraordinary powers and deciding how to use them (oh, and there’s a little doomed romance there, also).  Roland says that only God should have this kind of power.  Maybe that’s an ironic prophecy, because tele-transport is also what has always been envisioned by the artistic use of wings for angels in Heaven.  We can only hope.

 

Questions For Discussion:

1)      If you could transport yourself anywhere, instantly, where would that be?

2)      If you could take someone or something with you, who or what would that be?

3)      When have you had difficulty “catching up” to a sudden change of circumstance which altered your basic assumptions about the world? (Think about the disciples witnessing the miracles of Jesus, or others in the scripture witnessing miracles, such as Martha and Mary seeing their brother, Lazarus, being raised from the dead: John 11.)

4)      Do you think of the afterlife as having no spatial restriction? (John 20: 19-31)

5)      Do you think that tele-transporting was happening with, say, the devil’s temptation of Jesus? (Luke 4: 1-13) Elijah outracing Ahab’s chariot? (I Kings 18: 4-6) Peter escaping from prison? (Acts 12:6-11) The Transfiguration? (Matthew 17: 1-8) Elisha thwarting the Aramean attack? (2 Kings 6: 8-23)

 

Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas