Jumper, while it may be a reasonably enjoyable ride, fails to make certain distinctions about God that should not be omitted.
David Rice has an extraordinary gift: teleportation. When he discovers this ability as a young teen, he “runs” away from home. It’s hard to find fault with him for that since his mom left when he was little and his dad is a sad excuse for a parent.
It isn’t long before David uses his newly realized gift to rob a bank. Maybe you could blame that illegal and selfish behavior on the fact that David has had little to no responsible parental influence and guidance, but by age fifteen you’d think he’d be old enough to know that ripping off a bank is wrong.
Years later, David (Hayden Christensen) is tracked down by the Paladins, a deadly organization whose sole purpose is to hunt down Jumpers (teleporters) . . . and eradicate them. David manages to escape an encounter with the homicidal Roland Cox (Samuel L. Jackson), but the chase doesn’t end there. Basically, the majority of the film is about David trying to survive and fight off the murderous Paladins while discovering that he isn’t the only Jumper and that the conflict between Jumpers and Paladins has been going on for centuries. There’s a little more to it than that, but you get the gist.
I want to come back specifically to Roland and his cronies. Griffin O’Connor (Jamie Bell), another Jumper, classifies the Paladins as “religious nut jobs.” Earlier in the film, the Paladins are seen capturing a Jumper, and when the teleporter asks why, Roland calls him an abomination and says that “only God should have the ability to be everywhere at once.” He then plunges a knife into the Jumper’s chest.
The ability to be everywhere at once – that’s called omnipresence, and yes, God does indeed have that power. But Jumpers can only transport themselves from one place to another super fast. Teleportation is not the same thing as literally being all places at all times, so putting their ability on a par with God’s power doesn’t make sense. The premise of the Paladins’ murderous crusade is based on a misconception of God’s power.
It goes further than that, though. The Paladins have made themselves judge, jury, and executioner. They seem to think that they have a God-given authority to persecute Jumpers, but really, they’re the ones “playing God.” They have elevated themselves above the Jumpers, and think that just because Jumpers have a reputation of abusing their gifts, that means all of them will go bad sooner or later. “What if I’m different?” says David. Roland doesn’t even pause to consider the question. David has abused his ability, there is no doubt about that. Bank heisting is no good way to make a living, and clearly God would never approve of such a life style. But Roland’s shortsightedness does not allow him to contemplate the possibility that David could be reformed. To him, all Jumpers are the same.
The Paladins seem to think themselves servants of God, but their conduct does not reflect His compassion and patience. Worse, they prejudge the Jumpers. They don’t just pursue the ones who commit crimes – they want to kill them all before they have the chance to harm anyone. We find out later that David’s mother (Diane Lane) belongs to the Paladins, and when he made his first “jump” as a five-year old, she said she had two choices – either leave David, or kill him.
The Paladins presume to know the hearts and intentions of all Jumpers, and they also presume to know the mind of God when they decide that they’d be honoring Him by killing these people.
“For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.”
~ 1 Corinthians 2:11
“Okay, so what’s the problem?” you might ask. The problem is that the movie does not make the distinctions that I presented here. While those of us who know God and the Bible may be able to distinguish God’s justice from the Paladins’ idea of justice, the film fails to distinguish it. The potential consequence, whether intended or unintended, is that God could be seen as the villain – an oppressive, murderous tyrant Who chooses who’s going to be evil and who’s going to be righteous, rather than giving us the chance to make that choice for ourselves.
“But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men. But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day. The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.”
~2 Peter 3:7-9
At face value, Jumper isn’t a bad film. Although the acting can get underwhelming (cough Christensen cough), there’s enough sci-fi action and high jinx to hold your attention and the background provided for the story’s conflict is interesting. While there is a moment in which David and his love interest get too friendly (though it’s not explicit) as well as language, what really makes this film hard to swallow more than anything, in my opinion, are its omissions regarding God and how the resulting image we get of Him is an insult to His true character. Had there been a more Biblically accurate perspective injected into the story to oppose the Paladins’ distorted views, it could have improved the movie.