This is based on a book I've never read, so I can't compare the movie to the source material. Also I should say, it took me awhile to decide to put my review in the science fiction category; I was thinking of fantasy, because it doesn't really feel all that science fictiony to me. I was also thinking maybe paranormal, or action/adventure, or... I dunno. It's one of those things that really shows me how fine the line is between some of my categories. But whatever. Most sites call it science fiction, and I guess I can see the potential for it to be true SF, even if I don't feel like the movie explained its concepts well enough to be more than fantasy.
Anyway, it starts with a 15-year-old boy named David Rice (Max Thieriot), who has a crush on a classmate named Millie (AnnaSophia Robb). There's an incident that leads to David nearly drowning, but then he's surprised to find he has somehow teleported to the local library. When he goes home, we learn that his mother (Diane Lane) had left when he was five, and his father isn't a very good parent to him. So, he decides to run away from home, or rather teleport. (We eventually learn this ability is called "Jumping.") He can apparently only Jump to places he's been before, or spots which are in his line of sight, I guess. Once he had been to New York City with his mother, so that's where he goes now. He gets a room, practices his Jumping, and then uses his ability to rob a bank.
Then the movie flashes forward like eight years. David (now played by Hayden Christensen) has been living a carefree life, using his ability to steal money or anything else he wants, and travels the world, doing whatever he feels like. But then a guy named Roland (Samuel L. Jackson) shows up at his apartment, and he has electrical devices that can block David's ability to Jump. There's an intense struggle, but in the end David manages to get away. He returns home to Ann Arbor, and finds Millie (now played by Rachel Bilson). He tells her he's "in banking," and invites her to go to Rome with him. She had always wanted to travel the world, and Rome was at the top of her list, so she agrees. (Though they take a plane, because David doesn't want her to know the truth about him.) While in Rome, David meets a guy named Griffin, who is the first Jumper he'd ever met. Griffin is hunting various people, including Roland, who are called Paladins. Paladins had been hunting Jumpers for like hundreds or maybe thousands of years, because they believe only God should have such power. Also, according to Roland, all Jumpers eventually end up killing people; though of course David says he's different.
Anyway, David doesn't want to get caught up in Griffin's war against the Paladins, and Griffin doesn't want to work with him, either. But the trouble is, once the Paladins know who a Jumper is, they can use the people they care about as bait, or even kill them. So Millie is now in danger, and David has no choice but to fight Roland in order to protect her. It really wasn't fair to Millie, getting stuck in the middle of a war that has nothing to do with her. But it was also hard for David; he has to try to explain the truth about himself to her with no time to spare, when he hasn't even had time to come to terms with the sudden revelation that there are both other Jumpers and Paladins who want to kill them all. So of course, Millie doesn't react well to all this being thrust upon her, but just like David, she has no choice, because Roland finds her and tries to use her to trap David.
Well, I don't really want to say any more about the plot. I don't feel like I've said anything truly spoilery yet, and I'd like to keep it that way. But I will say I found the concept of Jumping interesting (reminds me of "translocating," which is just one of various magical abilities used by some of the people in my own books, though of course teleportation has been used in any number of fantasy and sci-fi stories). And I like the idea of the Paladins, and the various devices they use to counter Jumpers' ability. And while I think the origins of the Paladins makes perfect sense, their motivation in this day and age seems a bit outdated. On the other hand... well, we're clearly supposed to see David as the good guy and Roland as the bad guy, but the fact is that David is a criminal. It may be fun to watch him live the kind of life his ability affords him, and to live vicariously through him. Who wouldn't want that ability? But even so, what he does is wrong. Not as wrong as some of the things Griffin does, and for all we know, the Paladins are right about most of the Jumpers. I don't think they deserve to die, but David does deserve to go to prison, even if it would be hard to keep him there (I'm confident the Paladins could do it, if they wanted to). It's funny, David and Griffin compared themselves to superheroes, but in a way they're more like supervillains... not that the Paladins are really any better. But there was one point early on, before David learned about all this conflict, that he saw a disaster on the news, and I was hoping he might use his ability to rescue people. He didn't. I felt like he might have briefly considered it, but if he did, the whole matter just as quickly left his mind entirely. Which is kind of symbolic of the kind of person he is. Not that he has a responsibility because of his power (in spite of Spider-Man's famous mantra); I don't think not helping people is bad, but it clearly demonstrates that he's not good, either. He does leave IOU's whenever he robs a place, but I have no confidence that he was ever truly going to pay back anything he stole; and even if he did, it would just be with stolen money, unless he won some bets... and there's another scene that indicates he's not a great bettor.
Um... I also wanted to mention that there's eventually a neat twist that explains why David's mother left, all those years ago. But I feel that... while I understand her position, sort of, she really should have changed her mind about... certain things. I'm not gonna say more about that, but I didn't like the choice she made, even if she felt she had no other option. And I guess that's pretty much all I can think to say about the movie. It definitely could have been better, but it was still fairly fun. It had cool concepts, cool action and special effects, and several actors I like. I feel like I'm forgetting stuff I wanted to say... but I'm probably wrong, and anyway I've said all the important stuff, I guess....