Road House

Road House
Original title:Road House
Director:Doug Liman
Release:Prime Video
Running time:114 minutes
Release date:21 march 2024
Dalton, a former UFC fighter, tries to escape his dark past and penchant for violence in this adrenaline-packed action movie. Dalton is just getting by on his reputation when he is spotted by Frankie, owner of a truck stop in the Florida Keys. She hires him as her new bouncer, hoping to stop a violent gang working for crime boss Brandt from destroying her beloved bar. Even five to one, Brandt's team is no match for Dalton's skills. But the stakes become higher with the arrival of Knox, the ruthless hitman. As the brutal brawls and bloodshed intensify, the tropical Keys prove more dangerous than anything Dalton has faced in the Octagon.

Mulder's Review

The decision to offer a remake of the cult 1989 film Road House was greeted with curiosity and skepticism. The original film, starring Patrick Swayze as the iconic bouncer Dalton, tasked with cleaning up a rowdy Missouri bar, has earned its place among action cinema's finest. The film is remembered not only for its fight scenes, but also for its unique blend of action, drama and romance, coupled with Patrick Swayze's unforgettable performance. In 2024, Amazon Prime is making a bold move by reviving Road House for a new generation of viewers, starring Jake Gyllenhaal in the title role. This remake, helmed by director Doug Liman, had a tumultuous journey to release, marked by initial controversy and apprehension on the part of fans.

The film introduces us to Elwood Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal), a disgraced UFC fighter seeking redemption. His path leads him to the Florida Keys, where he is hired as a security guard for the Road House bar. Dalton finds himself up against Ben Brandt (Billy Magnussen), a local criminal determined to dominate the area, and his indestructible henchman, Knox (Conor McGregor in his first film role). The result is a story of resilience, redemption and hard knocks, which stays true to the spirit of its predecessor while forging its own identity.

Jake Gyllenhaal's interpretation of Dalton is a far cry from that of Patrick Swayze. Whereas Patrick Swayze's Dalton was the epitome of cool, calm and serene, Jake Gyllenhaal's version is more cheeky, with a snide charm all his own. It's a bold choice, reflecting the film's updated context and the evolution of action heroes over the decades. Conor McGregor, making his film debut, delivers a performance as unpredictable as it is entertaining. As Knox, Conor McGregor seems to relish the opportunity to play a heightened version of his public persona, delivering a performance that is both menacing and irresistibly watchable. He's certainly waking up to the fact that he's an excellent actor with a hell of a screen presence.

The supporting cast, including Daniela Melchior and Jessica Williams, are given roles that don't allow them to express their full potential. Daniela Melchior's character, in particular, is relegated to the background, serving as a love interest without much substance. This is indicative of a wider problem in the film - its underdeveloped characters and its reliance on action-movie clichés. The screenplay, written by Anthony Bagarozzi and Charles Mondry, plays it safe, opting for a familiar narrative path, perhaps too much so for those seeking depth and nuance.

Road House (2024) excels in its action sequences. Doug Liman's direction shines here, infusing the film with a kinetic energy that keeps the audience captivated. The fight scenes are well choreographed and executed, with Jake Gyllenhaal's physicality and commitment to the role evident. Doug Liman, known for his work on Edge of Tomorrow, understands his mission: to entertain. He achieves this by combining dynamic action, unexpected moments of humor and a self-awareness that keeps the film from taking itself too seriously.

Yet the film is not without its faults. The use of artificial intelligence in certain sequences has sparked controversy, with some believing it lends an artificial quality to the action. In addition, the film sometimes lacks pace, with some action scenes seeming more chaotic than coherent. Reliance on genre figures and a predictable plot also mean that Road House (2024) lacks the originality that might have set it apart.

Road House (2024) is a film that knows its audience and its objectives. It doesn't try to reinvent the wheel, but rather to put a new spin on a beloved classic. While it doesn't reach the iconic status of the original, it offers enough action, charm and nods to its predecessor to make it a film worth seeing. For fans of the genre and those looking for a dose of nostalgia with a modern twist, Road House offers a solid, if not revolutionary, entertainment experience. It reminds us that sometimes a good fight scene, a charismatic main character and a simple story pitting good against evil are all that's needed for an enjoyable evening.

Road House
Directed by Doug Liman
Written by Anthony Bagarozzi, Charles Mondry
Story by Anthony Bagarozzi, Charles Mondry, David Lee Henry
Based on Road House by David Lee Henry, Hilary Henkin
Produced by Joel Silver
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Daniela Melchior, Billy Magnussen, Jessica Williams, Joaquim de Almeida, Austin Post, Conor McGregor
Cinematography : Henry Braham
Edited by : Doc Crotzer
Music by Christophe Beck
Production companies: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Silver Pictures, Dark Castle Entertainment
Distributed by Amazon MGM Studios
Release dates : March 8, 2024 (SXSW), March 21, 2024 (Prime Video)
Running time : 114 minutes

Viewed on March 12 2024 (screener prime video)

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