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Film / Jumper

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Jumper is a 2008 film about people who can teleport around the world, and the fanatical group who hunts them. Directed by Doug Liman. Stars Hayden Christensen and Samuel L. Jackson.

It's loosely inspired by the novel Jumper by Steven Gould and inspired a Tie-In Novel, also by Gould, Griffin's Story. The movie also inspired a tie-in video game, also titled subtitled Griffin's Story.

Jumper provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Abnormal Ammo: Griffin is a master of using Jumping to hurl large and dangerous objects at his enemies, as Roland finds out the hard way courtesy of a double-decker bus.
  • Abusive Parents: David's father is an alcoholic drunk while his mother is a member of the Ancient Conspiracy tasked with killing all Jumpers, including him. Granted, the former is an alcoholic because of said mother leaving them.
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  • Adaptational Jerkass: Done deliberately by Doug Liman due to wanting a protagonist who learns and grows, but it must be said that the David Rice of the movie is rather more amoral and self-centered than the David "Davy" Rice of the books. The best example of this is a scene shortly after we are introduced to adult David, when he is lounging in his apartments and flips the channels to find a news report of a flood. Seeing the location, David could easily jump there and save people, but he just shrugs and changes the channel. By contrast, the Davy of the books is so moral that he kidnaps a terrorist, but instead of killing him he dumps him in a hole and gives him food and water until he learns the error of his ways.
  • Alternate Continuity: The film and its Tie-In Novel Griffin's Story are this to the original novels: the prologue to the film, up to David robbing the bank, is broadly accurate to the book, but everything after that is original to the film, including Griffin and the Paladin order. In the original book, David was pursued by the NSA instead, then by a Nebulous Evil Organization of business leaders in the sequels.
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  • Ancient Conspiracy: An entire one revolving around killing teleporters and inventing technology to stop them.
  • Anti-Hero: David. He is by no means a bad person, but ended up stealing a good deal of money as a child which led to his mildly hedonistic lifestyle. He doesn't do anything heroic until the 3rd arc though.
  • Arch-Enemies: Griffin and Roland. The latter killed the former's family when he was just 5, and the former now spends most of his time plotting the violent murder of the latter.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The Coincidental Broadcast in Ann Arbor, Michigan somehow shows NY1 on their TV sets, despite Ann Arbor being far from New York City. This was a result of film technique: Doug Liman shot the film on-location in various exotic settings, and all the scenes for a particular location were shot at the same time, regardless of plot progression. This results in some glaring inconsistencies in time of day, as David and Griffin will Jump between them instantly.
    • London, Tokyo and Griffin's hideout (an Ancient Tomb in an undefined Thirsty Desert); darkest night.
    • The Great Pyramid, the Sphinx, New York, Ann Arbor; broad daylight.
    • Rome; early morning. An extremely justified case here, as the director was able to get limited permission to shoot inside the Coliseum.
  • Badass Army: The Paladins are an army of Badass Normals whom have proven formidable to be able to hunt Jumpers since the Medieval Times. Note this is before they had the technology to follow Jumpers through their jump points or electrocute them to nullify their powers. The fact they are a group of religious fanatics and can appear anywhere in the world through sheer expediency and coordination makes them even more dangerous.
  • Badass Teacher: Griffin starts off as a reluctant one of these before becoming the...
  • Broken Pedestal: Griffin becomes one of these to David after he decides to blow up Millie's apartment because the Paladins are all inside — despite Millie still being inside too.
  • The Bully: Mark Kobold, the jerk who inadvertently causes David to discover his teleporting powers in the first place.
  • The Cameo: Kristen Stewart as David's half-sister in the movie's ending.
  • Canon Immigrant: Griffin, who wasn't in the novels, but did get a book based on the film.
  • Car Fu: Griffin jumps an entire double-decker bus at Roland, who only narrowly avoids getting crushed.
  • Character Development: The stated point of David's selfishness. Doug Liman was tired of standard Super Hero philosophy; he wanted to see one develop. In the beginning, he's a timid pre-teen with an abusive father. After his Super Empowering, he's a world-class thief who lives in a penthouse apartment. When the Paladins catch up to him, all he wants to do is "save his own ass". The near-miss fails to educate him, and he goes back to see his girlfriend and take her to Rome on a trip, just to impress her. A few misses later, they nearly kill his father. And when they capture Mille, he sticks his neck out for the first time. Time will tell if he goes further.
  • Church Militant: The Paladins, though they by far play up the "militant" over the "church".
  • Comes Great Responsibility: Defied. Neither David nor his pal seem to care about using their teleportation powers to help "muggles".
  • Cowardly Lion: David at first. He wants no part of fighting the Paladins, and shamelessly abandons (or tries to abandon) Griffin to fight them on his own. But once Millie gets dragged into things he finds his spine and seeks out Griffin in hopes of teaming up against them.
  • Create Your Own Villain: Griffin is a damaged and possibly even sociopathic young man who is obsessed with killing Paladins, yet the Paladins have no one to blame but themselves for their deadliest enemy.
  • Damsel in Distress: Millie's primary utility to the plot.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Jumpers can easily move themselves and another person, but greater masses are more difficult. Griffin is able to jump cars and a double decker bus at one point, but only when they're moving and it's implied he's using their momentum to take some of the strain off. Griffin relates a tale of a Jumper who tried to teleport an entire building; he managed to shake it a little before the strain killed him. In the climax, David manages to jump a sizable portion of Millie's apartment twice without killing himself, but it takes a lot out of him.
  • Determinator: Griffin has been hunted by Paladins since he was 5 years old, but he's still going strong.
  • Didn't See That Coming: Said verbatim by Griffin after Millie is kidnapped.
  • Die or Fly: David's first jump is out of pure instinct after he falls into a frozen lake and nearly drowns.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Roland is introduced telling a Jumper at his mercy that only God should have this power, then shanking the man in the gutnote , establishing his religious extremism and viciousness.
    • As mentioned above, one of the first things we see adult David do after jumping all around the world is shrug at a news report of a flood he could very easily do something about, establishing his moral apathy and lack of concern for others.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: In a deleted scene, Roland is introduced by tucking in his young son to bed, telling him about the Paladins in a very sanitized way and encouraging him to "follow in his footsteps" when he gets older.
  • Evil Gloating: Roland indulges in this during his first meeting with David, believing that the young Jumper has had help in staying under the radar and wanting to interrogate him rather than kill him outright.
  • Fantastic Racism: Paladins feel that all Jumpers are inherently evil and must be destroyed, evoking the standard "normal vs super" take on this trope.
  • Fighting Across Time and Space: Towards the film's climax, Griffin plans to bomb David's apartment and kill Roland. David objects to this since his love interest Millie is in there. This results in a fight/chase sequence in which the two teleport to various locations across the world for possession of the detonator. It ends with David trapping Griffin with power lines in Chechnya.
  • Guns Are Worthless: The Paladins use hybrid Grappling-Hook Pistol/stun guns because when a conventional bullet hits the "Jump Scar" left in the wake of a teleport, it spins off in a random direction. It's All There in the Manual.
  • He Who Fights Monsters:
    • Griffin. A cold and remorseless killer whose parents were murdered by the Paladins, giving him a motive to go to war with them. The only prospects he cares about anymore is saving his own skin and killing Paladins, and will personally slay anyone he feels will get in the way of either. Despite helping David understand his powers, David spends much of the third part of the film preventing him from blowing up the apartment the Paladins are located in to save his love interest.
    • Roland was also going to be revealed as this in early script drafts, as his hatred for Jumpers was going to be revealed to be caused by a Jumper who helped Hitler in World War II. That premise went unused, perhaps because it is such a Dead Horse Trope, though Roland is still implied to be one of these in the final product.
  • The Hedonist: The adult David viewers first see is a shallow and self-satisfied young man who cares about little other than his own pleasure. The rest of the film largely consists of him (slowly) growing out of this.
  • Holier Than Thou: Roland considers himself morally superior to any Jumper, despite committing acts much worse than even the worst Jumper we see.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: When David reproaches his mother for abandoning him when he was a kid at the end of the film, she responds by saying this trope word-for-word.
  • If I Wanted You Dead...: At the end David jumps Roland to a small cave in the middle of nowhere. Just before jumping out, he points out that he could easily have left Roland to be eaten by sharks (as Griffin brags of doing to Paladin agents), trying to make the point that Jumpers aren't inherently evil.
  • I'm Not a Hero, I'm...: Griffin spits this at David as he walks off to what Griffin believes to be certain death; in his experience, Jumpers don't have the power to save anyone, as while the Paladins are ready, willing and able to kill entire families as collateral damage in killing Jumpers, all Jumpers can do is Jump away. The best Griffin's ever accomplished is escaping with his life after killing his enemies, and he's been Forced to Watch everyone he's ever cared for die at the hands of the Paladins.
    Griffin: You're not a hero! You're a Jumper! Don't you get it? You don't save the girl! You lose her!
  • In Name Only: The movie shares the title, two character names, and the fact that the main character can jump with the book. Also the fact of the bank robbery itself, but none of the details of it. The book is a character study with a science fiction twist, the movie is a science fiction action flick.
    • The author of the original book tried to remedy this with the third book in the Jumper series, "Griffin's Story," which is slightly closer to the movie than the original book.
  • Inside Job: Referenced but averted. David cleans out a bank vault with his teleportation power. Later, somebody theorizes in his hearing that the robbery must've been an inside job since there wasn't any sign of forced entry.
  • Ironic Name: Roland's name means "famous throughout the land", yet Roland himself is a very anonymous agent (well, as anonymous as you can get when you're Samuel L. Jackson with white hair) who hunts Jumpers from the shadows.
    • Though also subverted, as his name is supposed the resemble the figure of the Frankish Knight Roland — confer the name “Paladins” and Griffin's talk about the struggle going back to the medieval times.
  • Jade-Colored Glasses: Having been on the run for most of his life, Griffin is rather less enamored with his jumping ability than David, rolling his eyes at the latter's hedonist use of his power — though this notably does not stop him from stealing a Mercedes after he agrees to the "team-up" with David.
  • Kick the Dog: Roland vs. Griffin. As he approaches him he shouts; "Time to send you home to Mommy!" Roland was the one who killed Griffin's parents. However, this hits his Berserk Button, cuing a teleporting charge of Unstoppable Rage, where Griffin punches Roland through a wall.
  • Knight Templar: Roland Cox, and indeed all the Paladins, are literally this, as Griffin reveals when he tells David that their organization goes back to medieval times.
  • Lack of Empathy: Roland's sneering promise to send Griffin "home to mommy" reveals he is just as bad as any of the monsters he may or may not have fought.
  • Meaningful Rename: A meta example — David Rice in the books is usually referred to by the nickname "Davy", while the less moral and more self-centered movie David is never called by any sort of diminutive, not even by his love interest Millie.
  • Megaton Punch: Jumpers can do this by teleporting in front of themselves multiple times as they charge an opponent. Griffin uses it to great effect during his fight with Roland.
  • Missing Mom: David's mom is one of the leaders of the Ancient Conspiracy trying to kill Jumpers, and had to leave her family behind.
  • Mundane Utility: David uses Jumping to travel the world and make moving faster. Taken to an extreme where he would rather Jump to his television remote literally a few inches away from him on the couch rather than physically move to it. When David tries to exit his apartment without teleporting, his muscle memory is so bad that he can't turn the doorknob. Roland comments that he Jumps so much it's probably been a while since he actually used a door.
  • Nebulous Evil Organization: The Paladins are a nebulous bunch of Church Militant types about whom little is known other than they hunt down and kill Jumpers at any cost.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Had the Paladins not been intent on hunting all of David's friends and family down, he probably would have just run away from them forever. But threatening his lover Millie and then nearly killing his father gives him a will to fight them in earnest.
  • The Omni Present: The Paladins reference this, claiming that the reason they hunt the jumpers is because "Only God should have this power—to be in all places, at all times." Note that the jumpers aren't actually an example (being pretty standard teleportation with mass limits), the Paladins are just over-reacting fanatics.
  • Portal Cut: Zig-zagged. The Grappling-Hook Pistol works against the Jumpers because they can't simply teleport away. Once it's secured, the wire teleports with them. David ends up embedding one in a door when he tries to jump with one attached. The fact that they're electrified might have something to do with it. On the other hand, Jumpers definitely can jump out with only part of an object, as David demonstrates near the end when he jumps most of Mille's apartment, cutting a huge chunk out of the building.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: The book spans about one year of David's life as a teleporter, during which he learns the specifics of his power, meets his Love Interest, and reconnects with his Missing Mom. Then, in the space of a week, he runs afoul of a wife-beating cop, is exposed first as a criminal then as a teleporter, and is finally knocked off his feet by a case of pneumonia, thus making him Late to the Tragedy when his mother is killed by terrorists. David has only begun to hunt them down and reconcile with his girlfriend when The Government steps in and things go From Bad to Worse. At this point, David has his Super Hero Origin and can begin to kick ass - after three fourths of the book. The movie manages to adapt just about all of this (swapping terrorists for Church Militants) with room for several Fight Scenes, and even set up a few sequel hooks.
  • Properly Paranoid: Griffin lives in the middle of a desert, is always looking over his shoulder, and thinks people out to get him are everywhere. The Paladins prove he is entirely correct on all counts.
  • Psycho Electro: The Paladins predominantly fight with electroshock-based weapons, as they are one of the few ways to slow a Jumper down.
  • Punny Name: It's probably not a coincidence that The Bully Mark Kobold shares a name with the aggressive and xenophobic yet very weak goblinoids from Dungeons & Dragons.
  • Randomly Gifted: Jumpers are born randomly, which is why the Paladins can't just track down bloodlines and have to instead look for unusual reports — though they usually kill all of a Jumper's family as well, both to draw the Jumper out and just to be sure. David's mother is revealed in the end to be a Paladin, who was horrified to find out that her own son was a teleporter, so she left him at the age of 5, knowing that he'll be killed otherwise. Slightly different in the novels, where the ability can be obtained by simply being teleported enough times.
  • Required Secondary Powers: Jumping not only teleports the person, but all the matter around them, otherwise Telefragging would be a big problem. David's first few teleportations result in damage to his surroundings because he hasn't streamlined the process, resulting in blasts of compressed air cracking the floor every time he Jumps into a building. This is exploited by Griffin in one instance; by closing on Roland with a series of rapid teleportations, he compresses so much air around him that the end result is Roland getting hit with enough force to punch him through a wall.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: If you're a Jumper, Roland will find you, even if he has to crisscross the world to do it.
  • Shout-Out: While trying to convince Griffin to team up with him against the Paladins, David references the "Marvel Team-Up" series, in which multiple Marvel heroes (usually Spider-Man and some B-list character) team up against a single threat.
    David: Marvel Team-Up. Now or never.
  • Technology Marches On: Inverted. In the book, David had to keep videos of places he hasn't been to in a while in order to teleport to them. Here David just uses photographs posted all over his apartment.
  • Teleport Spam: Primary method of Jumping combat, obviously.
  • Threatening Shark: Griffin explains that he knows of a reef with an active school of sharks where he dumps Paladin agents that attack him.
  • The Unapologetic: Roland has no regrets for any of the ordinary humans he kills for being between him and a Jumper, and even goes so far as to use Griffin's dead mother (who he himself murdered) to taunt him with.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: During the jumper duel, nobody notices the two men that appear out of nowhere and are wrestling in the street.
  • Villain Has a Point: Despite the Paladins having religious motivations for hunting Jumpers, they are very correct in believing that Jumpers can be highly dangerous. For example, David, the protagonist, uses his powers to steal whatever he wants and also uses his powers for petty reasons such as teleporting a former bully into a sealed bank vault. It's not until Millie's life is threatened that David is motivated to do anything heroic. Griffin is a zig-zagging case; he learned to Jump as a teenager, but was relatively harmless until the Paladins killed his parents - after which he dedicates his life to killing Paladins with no consideration for collateral damage, not any different from the Paladins' efforts to exterminate Jumpers.
  • Walking Spoiler: Sophie, David's half-sister who is played by a young Kristen Stewart and only appears in one scene at the film's end.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Being zapped with electricity scrambles a Jumper's ability to teleport.
  • What the Hell Are You?: Mixed in with Who Are You?. Although the latter is Mark's exact words, he's also clearly thinking this after witnessing David's teleportation abilities (and getting arrested for an alleged bank heist for them) when he sees David again.
  • Who Are You?: Overlapping with What the Hell Are You?, Mark exclaims this word-for-word after witnessing David's jumping abilities, when David confronts Mark for (without knowing or caring what he was doing) spilling to the Paladins who came asking Mark about David.
  • White Hair, Black Heart: Roland has (very conspicuously dyed) white hair and is an utterly remorseless murderer.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Aside from the holy crusade thing, Roland expresses the belief that all Jumpers eventually "go bad", which is why they are targeted. While David is a bank robber, Roland still says this in the context of "you'll get worse" rather than this alone being proof of his point, suggesting that he means it in a more megalomaniacal context. As none of the Jumpers seen fit this definition, this is probably just another self-justification rather than a legitimate concern.
  • Worthy Opponent: Roland seems to see David as this by the film's climax, noting how far he's come from robbing banks.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The movie and its supplementary material annoyingly waffle on whether or not the Paladins are this. On the one hand, they attacked Griffin and killed his family when he was only 5 years old, and Griffin notes that few Jumpers live into adulthood because of the Paladins. But in the press release it specifically notes that Jumpers become targets of the Paladins when they "make it to adulthood". David's mother abandoning him as a child because her only other choice was to kill him seems to indicate that the idea of Paladins waiting for Jumpers to get to adulthood was one that was phased out, making them this trope in the final product.
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: The Paladins are a sort of Van Helsing Ku Klux Klan. Indeed one gets the feeling they do what they do more out of jealousy that they don't have the power rather than a holy crusade. In the videogame interpretation of Jumper: Griffin's Story, Griffin mockingly lampshades the jealousy aspect while fighting Roland.