Dir: Doug Liman
Star: Hayden Christensen, Rachel Bilson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jamie Bell
Yeah, wouldn’t it be cool to be able to teleport yourself around the world simply by thinking about it? However, the gap between idea and execution has rarely been so apparent as in this noisy, vacuous action flick, presided over by two actors of stunningly negligible charisma, in Christiansen and Bilson. The former plays David Rice, an Ann Arbor teenager who discovers his ‘jumping’ talent after falling through the ice on a frozen river. He leaves home and his abusive father, robs a few banks to set himself up, but eight years later, still yearns for his teenage love, Millie (Bilson). He returns to Ann Arbor to track her down, and sweeps her off – by more prosaic means – to Rome.
However, David is being hunted by Roland Cox (Jackson), leader of the Paladins, a group who consider jumpers an affront to God, and so must be exterminated. Presumably all the Muslims, gays and atheists have already been taken care of, hence this scraping the bottom of the abomination barrel. Sloppily made, the principle driving force is coolness rather than logic. The number on David’s apartment changes for no reason; when he visits Big Ben, its hour chime plays, even though the time is 8:32 (see pic, right); and don’t even get me started on the whole day-time/night-time thing. If there are rules here – what makes David a Jumper? What’d happen if he arrived at a location occupied by something, or someone? – they’re never established, probably wisely, because they’d just be ignored. As for David’s mother… yeah, right.
This could all, conceivably, be forgiven, or at least tolerated, if done with any kind of wit or imagination. But Christiansen and Bilson are cinematic lightning-rods, instantly earthing any electricity the film ever generates. Indeed, they could have been replaced by two strips of metal, and the film would likely have improved as a result. Marginally late, but we have an easy winner of the 2008 National Treasure award, for the worst action film of the year. Death Race breathes a sigh of relief.