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  • Writer's pictureRob Ervin

Rob Reviews "Road House (2024)"

If the concept of a “remake” of Road House makes you cringe and default to avoidance here, do yourself a favor and don’t.  Given that this film is going straight to Prime Video, that sentiment actually makes sense to me paired with the long and distinguished list of other properties that have shall we say “fallen short” here, but this attempt actually sticks the landing.


Doug Liman (who has come a long way since Swingers) directs here with Jake Gyllenhaal taking the mantle of Elwood Dalton (setting his character apart from James Dalton in the original thirty-five years ago, but there is no real evidence either way that there is a relation there).  Dalton is a former UFC fighter who lives a solitary life getting money for underground fighting.  He is approached by Frankie (Jessica Williams), who owns a bar in the Florida Keys and is having problems with people coming in and causing trouble almost nightly.  He reluctantly agrees to become the new head bouncer at the bar, putting him on the radar of Ben Brandt (Billy Magnussen), whose family has been deeply rooted in the area for a long time and not for the right reasons.  He wants the land where the bar is for his own needs and is willing to do whatever it takes to get Frankie to hand it over.  As the bodies pile up, the feud escalates to the point where a call is put into Knox (Connor McGregor, who is living his best life here) to take Dalton out.


This was a case where I purposely didn’t go back and watch the original film so I didn’t wind up in that “you could have called this anything else and been fine” category.  However, I honestly don’t believe that even if I had I would have had that opinion by the time Road House was over.  Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Mondry have crafted a script that really has less than a handful of items that would tie it to the 1989 film and really establish this as its own story in its own time.  If it wasn’t called Road House and they changed Dalton’s name, there would still be comparisons, so simply making those moves had to have been done to avoid at least some of the haters as this film released.


Gyllenhaal’s take on the character as a darker but still zen man struggling with his own issues actually fits well within the story itself.  Even the way the story starts sets itself apart from the previous film, letting the audience know that there aren’t tight pants, cowboy boots, or hair products galore here.  It’s this level of grit and grime that prepares for the atmosphere to come, and believe me there is a LOT of atmosphere to come.


A large part of the first film as well was the music, mostly provided by The Jeff Healey Band (who is in it too as the Double Deuce’s house band leader), and this version follows in those footsteps but in a different way.  There are different bands playing at the bar each night, all with different flavors that contribute to the overall vibe of the Florida Keys in a way that kept a smile on my face and a tap to my toes.  There are a couple of cool covers in there as well, but don’t expect Gyllenhaal himself to sing like Swayze did on two tracks before; he leaves that to the professionals.


All in all, Road House feels more like a spiritual successor to the Swayze film than a remake or a reboot.  I truly believe this should have at least gotten a short theatrical run as this is the kind of film that not only can maximize its action on a big screen but deserves to be seen in a large group of people that are fully bought-in for the ride.  Maybe there will be some theaters that will show it even for a handful of showings, and if that happens see it that way.  Otherwise, this is fully worth the watch on Prime Video!

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