Glib, facile and allergic to genuine emotion, the New Year’s Eve all-nighter “Jump” has all the qualifications for a breakout hit, given the widespread appetite for ADD editing, good-looking if shallow characters and undemanding narrative. Not quite comedy, not quite drama, helmer Kieron J. Walsh’s overpopulated Northern Irish picaresque mixes serious themes — murder, suicide, guilt, domestic abuse, organized crime, existential angst — into an easily ingested puree. There are no lumps, but no love either.
Based on a stage play by Lisa McGee, the pic takes an uneasy footing from the start: Greta (Nichola Burley) is about to launch herself from a bridge in Derry, and as we listen to her voiceover, providing all the reasons why she’s summoning up the nerve to jump, it sounds more like an adolescent pout than a suicide note. She lost her mother to a drug overdose. Her father is a heartless gangster. OK, so she doesn’t know who or what she is, but she’s not desperate or depressed. Whiny, yes. Wearing angel’s wings — her New Year’s Eve costume — she may be ready to fly, but she’s not generating much sympathy.
More likable though equally unconvincing is Pearse (Martin McCann), who’s been looking for his dead brother amid an uncooperative Derry underground; he’s been beaten by emissaries of Greta’s father, Frank Feeney (the ever reliable Lalor Roddy), and just happens upon Greta’s swan song as she’s climbing onto the handrail. Their chance meeting connects all the many principals of Walsh’s not-so-profound story: Johnny (Richard Dormer), a heartless hired thug who’s nevertheless wracked with guilt over Pearse’s brother’s death; Ross (Ciaran McMenamin), another Feeney man who’s leading the chase for Pearse; Marie and Dara (Charlene McKenna and Valene Kane), who can’t find their best friend Greta anywhere but are going to have a solid New Year’s Eve regardless; and Greta and Pearse, of course, who are going to fall in love in about 10 minutes.
Is it 10 minutes? One of “Jump’s” problems is a faux-Tarantino-esque monkeying with the space-time continuum, so that Pearse’s robbery of Feeney’s office — in revenge for the murder of his brother — seems to come both before and after his meeting with Greta on the bridge. No one, apparently, is supposed to pay such close attention. And it’s easy enough not to.
The perfs are generally first-rate, even if the script doesn’t quite meet them halfway. Dormer is intense even if Johnny doesn’t make sense; Kane and McKenna are both attractive and kinetic; McMenamin dances between charming and soulless as Feeney’s chief henchman; Packy Lee, playing Ross’ asthmatic sidekick Jack, makes a rather standard hapless-hood role into something much more. Burley and McCann are less than endearing, but this probably has more to do with the precious nature of what they have to say.
Tech credits are tops, the lensing of David Rom particularly noteworthy for its grandeur, even if the time-lapse material makes an inadvertent comment on the continuity problems in the plot.