Road House is a cult classic late 80’s action movie starring the late Patrick Swayze as the legendary bouncer Dalton as he has to clean up a town by protecting one bar. For many, this older movie is untouchable, and for me it wasn’t a thing other than Sam Elliott looking cool as hell. So when it was announced that there would be a remake by Doug Liman and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, it was something that was very interesting to me. I’ve liked Liman’s other films, and Jake is my guy, especially when he’s playing someone who is tortured. For those that haven’t seen the classic or want to know the setup to this new, modern version – An owner of a bar needs some help cleaning up some of the rough clientele that patronizes their establishment. Frankie (Jessica Williams) goes to an underground fighting ring to find someone tough enough to be that person and ends up running into Dalton, a man whose reputation precedes him enough that others won’t even fight him. She makes him an offer to come to the Florida Keys to her bar, and she’ll pay handsomely. After thinking it over, he appears there like a wandering warrior or knight or, as the first local he meets says – a cowboy from a western. The girl, Charlie (Hannah Love Lanier), and her father, Stephen (Kevin Carroll), direct him to the Road House (no Double Deuce here), and Dalton quickly learns the problems Frankie has. After stepping in and passing out fades in the most polite way ever, Dalton discovers that it’s not just drunk guys causing a ruckus but something much more sinister.

About 20 minutes into watching this, I wished I had seen it in a theater. I really wish the studio had changed their minds and put it there instead of just streaming from the jump. This movie is one that people who love action movies based on people throwing hands will love. Gyllenhaal’s Dalton is a person so scared of what he’s capable of he works hard to control it and be kind because he feels he is not a good person. He’s a monster that fights monsters and loves it. Billy Magnussen, who plays Ben Brandt, the big bad of the movie, is good but also part of this new trope of young, rich, spoiled bad guys who aren’t tough. Yet he’s annoying enough that he does help propel the story, as you can’t wait to see him get smacked up. He’s not like the old Big Bad from the old movie at all. He’s not imposing at all, but that’s okay. Williams Frankie is fun as she’s not as passive as Frank was in the old movie. She’s making chess moves to get things done and protect her own. You could see Frankie and Dalton as peers and friends. So, how does Connor McGregor do? Well, he’s playing his UFC persona in many ways, and if you like him, you’ll like him in this. If you don’t like him, then he’s very effective as chaotic Knox sent in to deal with Dalton. He’s fun on screen and very, very intimidating. Like many real-life fighters before him, his fight scenes are amazingly effective and dynamic.

While the whole film looks good, the fight scenes work best for me. Liman and the filmmakers use innovative camera movement and changing of frame rate to make the impacts from hits look and feel more forceful. The use of sound and how the hit sound when they connect is some of the best outside of the Indiana Jones films. Back to the camera, I feel that they took influence from fighting games, especially Tekken, in how the fights between just two characters. The tension ramps up, and impacts, dodges, and counters have a rhythm and flow that those of us familiar with the King of Iron Fist Tournament will see. I enjoyed this version of Road House more than the old one, and it’s an action movie that I think most will watch and re-watch, just like the classic film. Maybe this one can even get a sequel.

Score: B+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *