Road House – Jake Gyllenhaal Literally Carries This Silly Action Remake on His Back

MOVIE REVIEW – There’s this peculiar phenomenon where anything from the 1980s or ’90s suddenly seems better in hindsight than we probably ought to remember, despite those of us who were already carting around a bit of sense back then knowing the truth. So, does Jake Gyllenhaal’s version of “Road House” manage to outshine its 1980s predecessor? Well, to be honest, the bar was set pretty low…


The original “Road House,” elevated from the masses in 1989 by Patrick Swayze’s undeniable charisma, has unfortunately not aged well over the years; it promised nothing more than cringeworthy laughter from the get-go. Even in the eighties, this film was a bit of a gas, and today, it appears as an outright silly nonsense. However, it seems our insatiable nostalgia somehow celebrates this action flick as a sort of forgotten classic.

But it’s really not. Not by a long shot.



Just a Remake?


Now we have a relatively faithful reinterpretation with Jake Gyllenhaal stepping into Swayze’s shoes, directed by Doug Liman (“Edge of Tomorrow”), raising the question of whether it’s better than the original.

It is, by a lot. But then again, the original was terrible, so the bar was really, really low. (I’m willing to concede it was entertaining in a mindless kind of way – with enduring “gems” like “Pain don’t hurt,” but that’s a very faint consolation.)

In this version, Dalton (Gyllenhaal) is also a bouncer but with a different past – he’s a former UFC fighter. He pops up in underground fights across the country, where merely his presence and the sight of his abs are enough to intimidate opponents. (Post Malone is amusing as a run-down illegal fighter.)

During one such fight, Frankie (Jessica Williams) takes notice and immediately hires him as the chief bouncer for the Road House, a larger tavern nestled in the hidden corners of the Florida Keys, in the small town of Glass Key. Initially, it seems Dalton only needs to sit at the bar, exuding an aura-like calm to maintain order while the world around him descends into chaos. A truly, almost meditative approach. But when he finally does act and intervenes in the scuffles, he not only alters the course of events but also inflicts some injuries that take more than eight days to heal.

But he’s an honorable guy, so he takes those he injures to the nearest hospital, where he meets Ellie (Daniela Melchior), the local doctor. If you’ve seen the original, you know what follows; if not, you can probably guess.

Ben Brandt (Billy Magnussen, excellent in this role), the spoiled son of a local crime boss currently serving time, takes an unusual interest in the Road House. He regularly sends bikers to trash the place, and Dalton consistently sends them back with bruises and broken bones. Thus, Ben’s father steps in, calling in the heavy artillery in the form of Knox (real-life UFC fighter Conor McGregor), who has recently become one of the most unhinged villains in history. If nothing else, McGregor’s performance is worth watching this brawling action film for, as he is simultaneously amusingly pompous, endlessly cruel, and stupidly entertaining.



Jake Gyllenhaal Gets the Joke


As soon as Dalton mentions that he just wants to maintain order, he immediately receives a sarcastic remark: “Like something out of a Wild West movie script.” This idea is later compared to a mystery-filled Western story, which leads to a major showdown, then another, and yet another – because these are tough guys, after all.

Under Liman’s direction, the fight scenes feel more lifelike and innovative – at one moment, for instance, the audience experiences the punches to the face from Knox’s perspective. Magnussen is enjoyable as a pampered figure undergoing trials; Arturo Castro is hilarious as a clueless biker always the last to know his gang’s intentions.

Gyllenhaal’s performance represents the most significant advancement. We get more than just a cliché character from him; it seems as if he too is aware of the situation, knowing that this film aims primarily to entertain rather than explore philosophical depths. However, this doesn’t mean he makes a mockery of it. Rather, he appears as a thoughtfully deeper, more considered Dalton, likely thanks to the more talented supporting cast and a better-quality film than the original.

Of course, no one will herald “Road House” as a masterpiece, but it’s far more successful than its original intent.

-Gergely Herpai (BadSector)-



Road House

Direction - 6.5
Actors - 7.2
Story - 2.4
Visuals/Music/Sounds/Action - 8.2
Ambience - 6.4



Jake Gyllenhaal's 'Road House' remake is an unexpectedly entertaining, though often silly action film that balances on the verge of nostalgia and innovation. The refreshed story and modernized action scenes, along with Gyllenhaal's charismatic performance, lift the film out of its original shadow. While it may not become a cult classic, the film is a pleasant surprise for fans of the genre.

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BadSector is a seasoned journalist for more than twenty years. He communicates in English, Hungarian and French. He worked for several gaming magazines - including the Hungarian GameStar, where he worked 8 years as editor. (For our office address, email and phone number check out our impressum)

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