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MFF Special: Analyzing Matthew McConaughey’s Record Breaking Jump in Reign of Fire

August 2, 2017

What make sure to listen to the podcast episode we recorded for this movie!

Reign of Fire is a relatively grounded post-apocalyptic dragon film that features an incredibly odd moment that has stuck with me for years. In an effort to make Matthew McConaughey look awesome they had him do a leap that breaks all forms of movie logic and left many people confused or amused. If you’ve been reading my random analysis posts you know I love finding answers to movie moments/scenes that confound me. These moments weren’t created to be analyzed or broken down and I know little thought was put into them. However, in these careless moments, I’ve discovered pure gold and I love figuring out things that don’t need answers.

Sidenote: I love Reign of Fire. It’s one of my favorite “when it’s on, I watch it” movies and I’m writing this out of love, not dislike.

Here is the epic moment.


Watch it again and take a look at how far McConaughey is able to jump. He spends seven seconds in the air and never descends! Normally, I’d watch this scene and never think about it again. However, some things happened that left me with questions I’d never thought I’d have.

  1. How could he stay in the air for seven seconds without descending?
  2. What was his plan? If he killed the dragon how did he plan on surviving? Was it an unnecessary suicide mission?
  3. If he played cat-and-mouse with more strategy wouldn’t it keep the dragon preoccupied longer?
  4. How much does the axe weigh?
  5. How strong are his quads?
  6. Do we quickly evolve after the apocalypse to become better jumpers?

Normally when a hero sacrifices their life they do something heroic before they die in a glorious ball of death. McC got off to a great start with the leap but everything went wrong after that. At first, I was like “He might kill a dragon!” Then after a few seconds, I was  like “Wait, did that just happen?”  This isn’t The Last Witch Hunter where Vin Diesel jumps through a bone creature easily and without a scratch. This is a film where the attack plays out exactly how it would’ve happened (dragon wins = practical), but it throws in a world record breaking jump beforehand, which it makes it weird and awesome.


This is how the scene should’ve played out according to gravity AND movie gravity.


This is what happened.

How did I come up with him traveling 35 feet? Take a look at the McC jumping video and pause it at the four-second mark. I measured the length of his body (5 feet – since he is slightly bunched up) and went from there. I established (via tape measure against the television) that in those three seconds he covered 15 feet. Then, I played the video and counted how much longer it was until the dragon ate him (4 seconds). Thus, 7 x 5 = 35. It may seem like a very far distance (it is), however, I think it’s about right considering he never slowed down and is killed while moving at maximum speed. What I find to be most impressive is it broke every single long jump record with ease and less running space. Take a look at the clip below for reference.

The world record long jump was 29 ft. 4 1/4 in. Powell had a longer running platform and wasn’t carrying an axe.


While watching the McC clip I was certain he was always moving closer to the ground (which would happen 100% of the time). However, when the dragon eats him it simply flies over the tower where McC jumped. If McC was falling towards the earth, the dragon would’ve smashed into the tower. Thus, further proof of the miraculous 35-foot jump/float.


This is what would’ve happened had he started to descend.

I 100% believe that McC’s character didn’t think he was going to die. I think he thought he would murder the dragon with a mighty swing of his axe and land on his feet. However, much like Samuel L. Jackson and The Rock in The Other Guys he horribly misjudged his actions and didn’t think about what would happen. That is why I love this moment because it defies everything that cinema has taught us. I never suspected that he would literally float for 35 feet in the air for seven seconds whilst holding an axe and then die. The scene is memorable because it is believable and insane in the span of 10 seconds.

There you have it! Matthew McConaughey broke every long jump record known to man and his reward was a quick death. If you liked this post make sure to check out my other random data analysis musings about a Merman’s murderous journeyLeatherface sprinting,  Deep Blue Sea and Stellan Skarsgard, I Know What You Did Last Summer trunk cleaning and Michael Myer’s Halloween H20 driving then work your way down the list!

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