Road House (2024) Review

Road House (2024)
Ex-UFC fighter Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) is hired as head bouncer at the roughest of all bars in a corner of the Florida Keys.

by Boyd Hilton |
Published on
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Road House (2024)

It’s fair to say the release of this remake of the much-loved but thoroughly ludicrous 1989 Patrick Swayze action vehicle has taken a controversial turn. Director Doug Liman is not happy the movie is going straight to Prime Video without opening in cinemas first and has not been shy in telling the world of his frustration, while star Jake Gyllenhaal says it was always meant for streaming. Whatever, the finished film undoubtedly looks resplendent on any sized-screen — and it’s perfect for a super-fun night in.

Road House (2024)

Liman’s version switches the action from small-town Missouri to the more photogenic Florida Keys, where Gyllenhaal’s hero-with-a-dark-past, Dalton, reluctantly agrees to help the local watering hole survive relentless attacks from horrible people. While Swayze’s Dalton was cool and enigmatic, Gyllenhaal’s incarnation is garrulous and approachable. Not to mention even more ripped: with muscles bursting from every inch of his body, he’s so absurdly hench, he makes his pro boxer in 2015’s Southpaw look like a slob.

Jake Gyllenhaal finds nuance in a fairly standard testosterone-fuelled figure.

But more impressive than his sculpted body, Gyllenhaal manages to find nuance in what is, on paper, a fairly standard, testosterone-fuelled figure. As cheesy as it may sound, this Dalton really is a new kind of action hero, as caring and sensitive as he is ruthlessly violent when he needs to be. This guy actually smiles. A lot. Yet the star is also believable as a fighter who’s clearly having a great time showing the local thugs what for, in a series of brilliantly choreographed mass brawls. Somehow, we entirely buy the idea that this guy can single-handedly hospitalise half a dozen bikers while sustaining only minor injuries himself.

Even Dalton’s speedy romance with local doctor Ellie — played with charm and gusto by Daniela Melchior (The Suicide Squad) — somehow avoids cliché. As for the main villain, Brandt, Billy Magnusson is entertainingly oily as the smug, pink-suited prat, who’s desperate to keep on side with his criminal kingpin dad. He’s joined by a gaggle of goons for hire, led by real-life MMA superstar Conor McGregor in his first movie role. It’s a daring and controversial bit of stunt casting, but after making quite an entrance, McGregor maintains an impressive level of hyper-intensity throughout. Indeed, everyone involved, from great supporting actors like Lukas Gage (The White Lotus) to the bands who perform at the road house bar while mayhem erupts all around them, bring their A-game to a remake that constantly does its best to surprise and delight.

Expertly handled by director Doug Liman, wittily scripted, and boasting a wonderfully original take on the action hero archetype, this new Road House is a total riot.
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