Road House SXSW review

March 21, 202460/1007 min
Jake Gyllenhael, Conor McGregor, Daniela Melchior, Jessica Williams
Written by
Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Monday ( screenplay/story by), R. Lance Hilla and Hilary Henkin ( based on the motion picture
Directed by
Doug Liman
Release Date
March 21st, 2024
Run Time
1h 54min
Overall Score
Rating Summary

When the announcement came out that they were making a new Road House, there were a lot of puzzled faces among movie fans. Those looks stemmed from the fact that the 1989 Road House starring Patrick Swayze, about a bouncer who cleans up a bar, is, well, pretty damn perfect. Now, I wouldn’t say us fans of the original were going through the five stages of grief with this announcement, but we accepted that it got made and now all we can do is judge it for what it is. And let me tell you, it definitely lands some good hits.

In a warehouse, two men are fighting in front of a crowd of cheering people. This fight is not for some kind of belt but instead for money going to the person left standing at the end of the night. There’s just one left, until a man in a black hoodie walks in and enters the ring, and all it takes is him removing his hood for the other man to quit before a punch is thrown. That mystery man is Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal), and as he is leaving, he is approached by a woman named Frankie (Jessica Williams), who has a job offer. Frankie had actually came for someone else, but after what she saw, she knew Dalton was the man to help her clean up her bar of trouble down in the Florida Keys. At first, Dalton turns her down, but he later accepts it and heads down to see what he has gotten himself into. Frankie’s bar is a mess, but Dalton sets the tone early. However, it seems that it is not just run-of-the-mill biker gangs causing the problems; no, it is deeper. It seems a rich guy named Ben (Billy Magnussen) has plans for that bar, and the only person standing in his way is Dalton.

This Road House is written by Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Mondry, who modernize the story while also writing something that knows what it is. The script never hides its intentions and pretty much telegraphs its beats, but hey, we are not here for the script. Road House leans into the camp and really explodes with the action, and in its best moments, it can be riveting as it delivers some great crowd-cheering moments. The fights are good, if not a little chaotic for their own good, and when Conor McGregor shows up to steal the last half of the movie, Dalton seems to have met his match.

Road House definitely understood the assignment but probably got more complicated than it needed to be.  In this version, he is a UFC fighter with a past who takes a job to save one bar from a rich guy who wants that bar by any means necessary. Barring some details, it is pretty much the same movie. Gyllenhaal is pretty great as Dalton and really does kick some ass. The rest of the cast do what they are there for, with Williams also standing out as Frankie. By the time McGregor shows up, the movie starts to come off the ground a little too much, delivering some scenes that can be over the top. With that said, Road House is not a waste of time and is a serviceable remake, that for me, is a pretty decent companion piece to the original.

2nd Cine-Man Thoughts:

I’ll echo Brian’s opinion that Gyllenhaal is great, he really makes this version of Dalton his own. He is almost always grinning at the ridiculousness of the situations he finds himself in. It adds a level of humor to the whole film. Where I disagree is in regards to the script. I think it is fantastic. It does know what it is and leans super hard into it. It’s not exactly meta but it’s all there on the surface. There are also so many hilarious lines in the most unexpected moments, “F@#&ing boat dreams.” and “This piano is outta tune.” I really dug the script by Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Monday. And as silly and unbound by the laws of physics as the ending is, the final knuckle-baring-shirtless-brawl between Gyllenhaal and McGregor is awesome! –70

–Robert L. Castillo

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