Failure to Launch (2006) Review

Matthew McConaughey and Sara Jessica Parker on the Failure to Launch movie poster.

DJ Benvenuto the Raccoon II (With the Funny Hat) has this to say:

For those of you that missed my review of Herbie: Fully Loaded you can check the Reviews section.

I think I wrote that back in October but I’m not totally sure. It was whenever the DVD came out.

Today I thought I would bring you another review in the same spirit as my Herbie review and it’s for the latest Matthew McConaughey movie.

Yeah, you guessed it. The incredible thriller, Failure to Launch.

In this film we see an intensity rarely seen in movies of today. Failure to Launch deals with, as the title implies, a missile that was planned to launch but moments before launch it refuses to and, yes, I do mean it “refuses”.

This missile is unlike your conventional missile. It is actually a man the military picked up off the streets and attached some fins to.

Now, you’re probably thinking, “That’s insane. Surely, you’re kidding.” In response to this, I have to say that once you see Matthew McConaughey’s performance as this strange missile man you will not only believe me but demand that Matthew receive every award possible.

Of course, I don’t want to spoil this movie for anyone but I’m sure that if you’ve read this far you want to know a little bit more. So, I’ll try to please.

“Why is a man a missile?” you’re asking. I know, I asked myself the same question, but it makes perfect sense.

This movie takes place in the year 2042. At that point in time, the world has fallen into a sort of second cold war.

This time around, there are three nuclear powers. The United States which has annexed Canada, China which has taken over both Koreas and a new Middle Eastern power that has taken over much of Europe.

The situation is extremely tense and technology has reached the point where the standard nuclear missile is ineffective. It seems there is a technology which is basically the realization of Reagan’s Star Wars plan.

In other words, satellites in space and facilities on the ground that can take out any airborne object before it poses a threat.

This is where the man missile comes in.

A scientist realizes that this anti-missile technology has a flaw. It can not detect flesh and bone projectiles of a certain size. They end up discovering that humans are of the best proportion and mass to fit the bill.

The government receives intelligence regarding a meeting between the new Middle Eastern nation, called Cyber Persia X22 and the new Chinese nation, Neo China ZZ56.

I’m kidding. Of course those aren’t the real names. The real ones are far better.

Regardless, the two nation’s leaders will be meeting in order to consider a possible alliance. If this alliance takes shape then it would pretty much mean the beginning of the end for the United States so they can’t let it end successfully.

This is where the man missile comes in. The military officers get ahold of an ex-soldier that has become a homeless alcoholic, played by Matthew McConaughey.

They lie to him and bring him to the facility where they have the man missile launcher. In the movie they call it the “Icarus 2”.

Matthew McConaughey’s character Tripp (interesting name) is knocked out and when he wakes up he has fins on his shoulders, head and ankles. But they are not made of metal, since that would increase the probability of detection. Instead, they are made of bone that was grown in the necessary shapes and attached directly onto Tripp’s own bones.

It’s a horribly shocking sequence and quite graphic. But I have to say, that even though some critics say it was gratuitous, I think it was completely necessary.

now back to the blog...

After he wakes up, we go back to the leaders. Here we have a little more exposition on the international situation.

Both leaders will be in the open for a photo opportunity. If both leaders can be taken out at the same time at this meeting, then both nations will be in chaos long enough for the United States to move in with their cybernetically enhanced shock troops. They will take the opportunity to storm every single nuclear facility in both nations and then that would open the way for an even bigger attack on the remaining military facilities.

What they didn’t count on was that Tripp wasn’t ready to become nothing more than a streak on the sidewalk. Seconds before launch, he realizes what is going on and manages to rip out two of the fins that had been attached to him.

I know I’ve already said a lot but there is a big spoiler coming up so don’t keep reading if you don’t want to know.

After seeing Tripp ripping the fins out, the scientists abort because he won’t have the in-flight stability needed in order to hit the targets halfway across the world.

The scientists gas the chamber in order to knock him out and then go in to reattach the fins, but they are running low on time, so they can’t wait very long.

What they didn’t know was that Tripp had expected the gas and had held his breath.

So when the scientists entered the chamber, Tripp took the opportunity to fight back. This is when Matthew McConaughey says one of the best one liners I’ve heard in quite some time...

“Looks like we’ve got a FAILURE TO LAUNCH.”

...and then he uses the bone fin he had removed from himself to kill the head scientist that had rushed into the chamber first.

Needless to say, the last twenty minutes (as well as the first twenty minutes) of the movie are simply amazing.

This movie builds up to this point with such skill that when you reach these last twenty minutes, you feel as if you are Tripp and you need some answers.

This is, simply put, the best movie I have seen all year long, by far.

Matthew McConaughey is quite possibly my new favorite actor.

Tom J. Astle and Matt Ember are amazing writers and I can’t wait for their next project.

The director, Tom Dey, also exhibited nothing less than a mastery of his craft.

Go see this movie and don’t worry about the ending.

Pretty much everything that has to be resolved is resolved.

And we see what happens to Tripp and what happens in the war.

Failure to Launch will not fail to excite.

(I bet Ebert started just like this.)


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