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Movie Review: Road House



 

“No beast is more savage than man when possessed with power answerable to his rage.” - Plutarch


We can throw tantrums until we’re blue in the face; Hollyweird doesn’t give a shit. Remakes, redos, rehashes, prequels, requels and sequels aren’t going anywhere. On the rare occasion that a remake is actually decent, it still bears the question, “Is it better than the original?” First let’s look at the 1989 (Year I was born! God I’m old.) cult classic starring the irreplaceable Patrick Swayze. Critically regarded as so bad it’s just bad or so bad it’s good; whichever group you fall into it’s still being talked about and lauded over for thirty-five years now. It’s clearly not going anywhere which means whatever you think of it, they did something right.



 It’s been my experience that anyone who’s taken the time to watch the original was either alive when it premiered in ‘89 or was introduced to it by someone else who was in fact alive at the time. And these are usually people who appreciate exactly what they were trying to achieve. Also, for posterity sake, just because a movie is deemed silly or “cheesy” doesn’t automatically make it a terrible movie. Case in point, Patrick Swayze’s Road House.


And now Doug Liman’s 2024 remake starring the indelible Jake Gyllenhaal.


I think you could argue that anyone who likes the remake more has recency bias. I think you could argue that anyone who likes the original has had more time with it and have found the little things that make it special. If they just give the new version a chance and allow for time to pass by they’ll feel differently. Maybe so. I think both arguments have their validity and can also be argued against. Basically, this is my long winded, gasbag way of saying everyone is allowed an opinion. But back to the question of which is better. With what I’ve been seeing people seem mixed but almost no one is fully hating it, although I’m sure they’re out there. So when it’s mixed like this the question I think will always remain. When they dump a piece of shit out like the Coming to America sequel and it’s almost unanimously loathed I think the question is posed and answered. 



If the remakes aren’t stopping anytime soon, I think it’s best to try to find the best in what we’re given. If you’re looking for a cinematic masterpiece as you watch Road House (2024), you’re going to be severely disappointed. This is absurdity cinema and it revels in it. It embraces how over-the-top the whole thing really is. The villain is Conor McGregor as a real-life, walking, talking, fighting cartoon character. And it works. It’s his first performance ever and he’s ridiculous and it’s hilariously perfect. While I can’t say this performance gives me hope for his acting future concerning any serious roles, it just may be the first step of many in this industry. 



I will argue forever that Jake Gyllenhaal is one of the best actors of my generation. From an isolated bubble boy to a psychopathic news stringer his range is incredible. His turn as Dalton is high strung, anxious tightrope happiness ready to fall into a pit of unstoppable violence. I mean his happiness feels forced so that he doesn’t snap on an innocent person who maybe just had too much to drink. And when he does inevitably lose his patience he becomes a one-man wrecking crew. He is a blast to watch carry on the legacy of Swayze while very much making this his own. 


At the helm is accomplished director Doug Liman. You’re familiar with his work I assure you. The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow and Mr. & Mrs. Smith to name a few. With Road House he’s taken on a unique approach to the fighting sequences, almost acting as a dance partner bobbing and weaving along with the characters as they swing and kick and bloody one another with extreme prejudice. It makes already audacious fight sequences all the more exciting and evokes a real kind of danger as it maintains a close-up vantage point while still managing to showcase clear, well-choreographed fight sequences. There is a confidence in his work and you can definitely feel it throughout this absurdist comedy action thrill ride. 



Road House is a lot of fun. I don’t think it needs to be anything more than that. We could argue if its existence is justified by discussing if it added anything or improved upon the original in any way. Like I said earlier, I can understand the argument from both sides. Maybe that’s a copout response but there it is regardless.  


Back to the beginning, the legacy of this remake will rely on the same faith as the original that those watching will go along with the story and its intentions. If you go in knowing and accepting that Road House is far from top-tier cinema destined to take over awards season you’ll find the beauty in it. Its aim is pure and simple; to entertain with classic 80s homage style progression and action with little concern about the hows and whys of such extreme lawlessness. It’s not seeking permission to act this way so much as it’s just letting everyone know… it’s happening. 



I think maybe the ultimate deciding factor would be if Swayze would have liked it but of course we’ll never get that answer. Having starred alongside Gyllenhaal in Donnie Darko I’d like to think he’d be proud. The best part of this new fangled Road House movie, if you don’t like it, the original still exists. 



Rated R For: violence throughout, pervasive language and some nudity

Runtime: 121 minutes

After Credits Scene: Mid-credits, yes.

Genre: Action, Thriller

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Conor McGregor, Daniela Melchior, Jessica Williams

Directed By: Doug Liman


Out of 10

Story: 7/ Acting: 8.5/ Directing: 8/ Visuals: 8.5

OVERALL: 8/10


Buy to Own: Yes. Now streaming on Prime Video.

 

Check out the trailer below:


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