Road House was directed by Doug Liman and stars Jake Gyllenhaal and is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

It’s a remake of the 1989 Patrick Swayze movie and here an ex-UFC fighter named Dalton takes a job as a bouncer at a Florida Keys roadhouse only to discover that this paradise is not all it seems. The original Road House (1989) got crushingly bad reviews when it came out, I mean really bad. Roger Ebert was one of the very few film critics who actually said the film had some merit to it, and in an almost prophetic review he mentioned the film might be so bad that it’s good. That description attached itself to the movie for years with so many fans embracing it, recommending it to friends and sharing the movie with their kids that people just think it’s good now. With cable channels like TNT running it over and over again for the last 30 years and, lest we forget, Andy Dwyer’s earnest retelling of the infamous throat rip, it’s no surprise people love Road House!

I’ve seen it, I think it’s a ton of fun. Patrick Swayze punches a whole lot of people in the face. And that film came out in an era where movies embraced their own silliness and viewed that as a positive thing. There are so many movies of the 80s and 90s that feel gleefully exuberantly absurd but they’re completely sincere in being so. Doug Liman’s Road House is 100% trying to recapture that vibe.

Sometimes it succeeds, sometimes it doesn’t. What Road House (2024) does very well is recapture a type of movie that is not made much anymore- the lone hero-guy comes into a town, fights a lot of people, kills some of them, and somehow changes the town for the better when the smoke clears, and everybody (still standing) looks at him like he’s the hero. In fact, this movie is very aware of the fact that it follows a structure of a classic Western. A lone gunman coming into town on a horse finding out there’s some problems at the local saloon and taking care of business.

What it also does very well is Jake Gyllenhaal, the man is clearly dedicated to his physique. He looks amazing in the movie and his fight scenes are a lot of fun to watch. But I also liked him bonding with members of the town and them kind of allowing him to open up a bit. But like the original, this film also feels very over the top. This is a movie where people can be stabbed not once but multiple times, and then kind of get up and be like, “Ah man, that didn’t feel good and walk away.” Lots of rippling muscles and sweaty bodies flying off of boats that are crashing, lifting four, five, six stories into the air landing and somehow surviving. For better or worse it worked for me.

Where the movie starts to drag, is the introduction of a secondary villain near the third act of the movie. There’s our standard head-honcho villain for a lot of the movie. But once they introduce Conor McGregor’s character, Knox, it feels like the movie overestimated how much the audience would appreciate the character. Aside from a really good bare knuckle fight scene, his inclusion in the movie didn’t add much. Liman’s The Bourne Identity did something very similar. In that film, people are trying to find and kill Jason Bourne; eventually a call is made to Clive Owen’s assassin, The Professor. Though introduced late in the film, Owen becomes a climactic villain like McGregor does here. The difference, it worked so much better in that film because it sets up a villainous system with a hierarchical structure of assassins. Aside from Owen being a brilliant screen-grabbing actor, his character was also given one of the film’s best lines when he looks at Bourne in that moment after defeat shortly before death, and says, “Look at what they make you give.”

In that moment, we empathize with both Jason Bourne and Owen’s assassin. Liman offered nuance with Bourne. But, there’s no nuance in Road House (2024), which, is a testament to just how faithful an adaptation it is to the original.

There’s also a very hyper frenetic way in which the action scenes are edited and filmed, almost as if they were pasted together with CGI transitions. There are some really brutal and effective sequences of people just getting their faces smashed in, but there’s also parts where the camera whip pans around so fast and stitches together CGI cuts it can take the viewer out of the movie-watching experience.

I laughed a lot while watching Road House (2024). I cannot underestimate the amount of people who get their faces kicked in. Gyllenhaal is clearly having a blast, dedicated to the role of Dalton and it remains to be seen if it will be embraced by fans of the original film that is over 30 years old. People who love that movie have seen it 50, 60 times. It means something to them. It was part of their life and still is, a movie that just showed up on Amazon Prime isn’t going to change that. But I do think that this movie really did try to recapture the feel of the original, and for the most part succeeded.

Eager to be Please Friday Night Reaction: A-

Cinephile Review: B+

Critical Response: C+


  1. Loved Owen in Bourne! Great review! This analog cinefile may just bite the bullet and stream 🤢 Road House.

  2. Completely agree with the sincere & earnest films of the 80s & 90s! Enjoyed the movie, loved the review!

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