The year 1989 brought the world Dalton and the Double Deuce in the action film Road House which starred icon Patrick Swayze. This character who was hired as security for a rowdy bar in Missouri hit the world by storm and became a cult classic. Some 35 years later, Hollywood wanted to revisit this property in the form of a remake with an impressive creative cast and crew that includes Jake Gyllenhaal as the modern Dalton with Doug Liman in the director’s chair. The tone is very different from the original and brings things up to the modern day, however, the cartoonish screenplay and way over-the-top characters don’t mix well with the super violence on display. It’s far too silly and messy to form a fluid narrative, even though there is some moderate fun from Gyllenhaal alone. This revamp of Road House is a stale attempt at something that could’ve been great.

Director Doug Liman is a fantastic filmmaker who has made some iconic movies. Swingers, The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, and Edge of Tomorrow are all under his belt, but since 2014, Liman hasn’t quite stuck a landing that could qualify anything as good. He seemed to return to his roots with this remake, but most of its characters who go nowhere or have any semblance of a narrative arc drag this film down. Luckily, there are some fun enough bar fights that pack a punch, but at some point, Liman and co. decided to make a cartoon that resembles absurd action from a Fast and Furious franchise that just doesn’t mix well with these grounded elements of a bar in the keys of Florida.

In this iteration of Road House, there isn’t even a bar called the Double Deuce, but Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a former UFC champion who killed a guy in the ring and hasn’t recovered from that trauma. He somehow crosses paths with someone who owns a bar in the Florida Keys and needs his help to end the riff-raff every night in the bar. Gyllenhaal’s teddybear persona is excellent and matches Swayze’s from 1989. And just like Swayze, Jake can turn that likability upside down on a dime and become a raging, violent animal when he needs to, which is showcased in the film. The downfall though is that this ultra-violence is mixed with slapstick comedy that belongs inside a Naked Gun film or a Looney Tunes animated short. It never really makes sense.

None of the characters have a big story arc but simply exist only for Dalton to interact with. Everyone is one-note, except for Dalton which makes this two-hour endeavor seem much longer than it’s needed. The only other memorable character in the film is the head villain’s secret weapon named Knox who is played by real UFC champion Connor McGregor. It’s not entirely sure what Liman said to McGregor, but it probably went something like, “McGregor, you need to play this villain like Cocaine Bear.” And that’s exactly what transpires. There’s no menacing to be had, other than just a gun for hire who wants to burn everything to the ground when someone flashes money. There’s nothing underneath the surface here or anything at stake like there was in the original film.

Even the romance in this new version is half-baked with no chemistry. In the original Road House, everyone felt the romance between Dalton and Dr. Elizabeth. Their passion oozed off-screen, but here, there is zero passion or chemistry, which is probably due to the unskilled acting or at least this performance from Daniela Melchior. The original film gave layers to the Dalton character, but here, Dalton is just battling his demons from a fight years ago inside the octagon. At least Gyllenhaal is great, which he always is, but the rest of the film is largely forgettable and can’t seem to find its footing in the type of action movie it wants to be. This remake of Road House is a letdown but can be serviceable as an Amazon Prime rental when folding clothes. There are no regular Saturday night things, throat rips, or monster trucks here. Instead, it goes the way of Fast and Furious, which is just upsetting.

Written By: Bryan Kluger

By Bryan Kluger

Former husky model, real-life Comic Book Guy, genre-bending screenwriter, nude filmmaker, hairy podcaster, pro-wrestling idiot-savant, who has a penchant for solving Rubik's Cubes and rolling candy cigarettes on unreleased bootlegs of Frank Zappa records.

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