About a decade ago, director Doug Liman released a movie called Jumper. If you’re like me, you were intrigued by the trailers that made the rounds for the film. Sure, it starred Hayden Christensen, but it featured a pretty cool premise about a selfish person having an unreal superpower to teleport himself. Ground that in the real world, and you have a premise worth exploring.
There was a lot of innate potential in the story, but like many, I came out incredibly underwhelmed. On the whole, the film just didn’t work, and though it set up interesting things to come, I knew it would never come to be. All this time later, Liman is revisiting the premise with the YouTube Red series Impulse.
But what about Jumper? Speaking with Collider, Liman opened up about when he realized Jumper just wasn’t working.
“Honestly, when I was making the film. I’m a contrarian. There’s the way everybody does it, and my instant reaction is, ‘I’m gonna do it differently.’ And so, when I was making Jumper, I said that my version of a superhero film would be that the person doesn’t become a superhero. They have a superpower, but they use the power to save themselves, at the end of the movie, and not to save the damsel in distress. I thought that would be interesting, in the same way The Bourne Identity took what was in the spy genre, and just threw it out the window. And then, you end up in these moments, where you paint yourself into a corner and it’s hard to get out of because you start to realize that these clichés exist because they work, and you’ve intentionally cut off a known thing that works to do something experimental. In the case of The Bourne Identity, it worked out, and in most of my films, it’s worked out. In the case of Jumper, when I first showed it to the studio, they both loved the movie and they said, ‘You can’t release the movie like this because audiences will flip out. You just can’t have your hero do something selfish in the finale of the movie.’ And I believed them. And I still believe them. I believe that what I had done was a gimmick. Maybe I was too cavalier about it. You can not deliver what an audience expects and deliver something radically different, but it better be equal to or better than what they expected. This committed the cardinal sin of just being different, but not as satisfying. I really didn’t have a Plan B, and I didn’t have a supportive environment, in which to figure out how to problem solve. We gave it a more conventional ending, and it lost a reason to exist, for me. So, at the time, I said, ‘This isn’t a read I want to go back to.'”
I pretty much adore everything he says here. By my nature, I love the idea of going against the grain in terms of story. At the same time, there IS a reason why these clichés exist, and when you go against them, you end up writing yourself into an unexpected corner.
I like the fact that he’s getting a second chance at this tale with Impulse. He’s being afforded a rare opportunity to revisit and heal an open wound in his career. But will he indeed heal it or just end up causing an infection? We’ll have to wait and see.
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