ROAD HOUSE Review: Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor Are Explosive in Doug Liman’s Fresh Take on the 1980s Classic

The Illuminerdi's Chalice Williams thinks the new Road House movie is a fresh take on the 1980s classic.

It’s important to start with this and not dwell on it too much. Yes, Road House is a remake of the 1989 classic of the same name that starred the late Patrick Swayze. It was a fan favorite then and still is to this day. While this current version pays homage to the original and has similarities (even including a tribute before the film starts), it’s important to note that this is a standalone project and should be treated as such.

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Dalton, a former UFC fighter who has left the sport for reasons we come to find out later on. He is approached by Frankie (Jessica Williams) who owns a road house in the picture-perfect Glass Keys. She details her problems with a local group led by Ben Brandt (Billy Magnussen), who runs an organization on behalf of his incarcerated father. Through terrorizing and causing all-out brawls, they seek to bully Frankie into shutting down her business – and she isn’t having it all.

RELATED: Why SXSW Is the Perfect Way to Debut ROAD HOUSE

She taps Dalton to become a bouncer at the road house (creatively named Road House) to help with the daily chaos. Dalton is quite effective at restoring the peace and word has now traveled to Brandt’s father. In comes Knox, played by UFC bad boy Conor McGregor to assist with getting the job done. To say he nailed his acting debut is an understatement; the man is playing an over-the-top version of himself and it works to a tee. From his entrance to his mannerisms, he is an eccentric and chaotic hothead who has what it takes to go toe-to-toe with Dalton.

While Gyllenhaal and McGregor stole the show, it’s worth acknowledging Arturo Castro as the one with 90% of the funny lines. The audience erupted with laughter every time he opened his mouth, so kudos to him for bringing the funny.

Gyllenhaal Joins the Ranks of Statham and Reeves

Gyllenhaal delivers a cool, calm, and collected persona that will still beat the breaks off of you if you try him. I found myself being reminded of Tobey Maguire in the first Spider-Man film, very humble and showing little emotion. He is absolutely ripped, which sent social media into a frenzy when footage was posted online of the 43-year-old actor at a UFC weigh-in. It caused a lot of buzz, thus igniting excitement for the film.

Gyllenhaal has been winning over our hearts for 2 decades with his charm and handsome looks, but don’t be fooled. It’s safe to say Gyllenhaal’s performances in South Paw and now in Road House have earned him a spot in the ranks of Keanu Reeves and Jason Statham as rising action stars (Ryan Gosling, of the same age, is making a similar transition, as he also premiered an action-packed film at SXSW, The Fall Guy).

I spoke with Gyllenhaal on the red carpet the festival premiere and asked if he wanted to be a fighter rather than an actor to which he laughed and responded, “No, what I learned from that whole process, both of them, is that no, I’m not fit to be a fighter.”

With technology drastically changing since the 80s, director Doug Liman was able to create appealing improvements to the setting of Road House. The waters are sky blue and the bar itself looks welcoming rather than a biker gang hangout. The fight sequences are well-choreographed and often so painful to watch that you can feel the damage in your core. Liman fully takes advantage of the updates to resources available to him and it’s a delight to watch it all come together.

Road House

The director wasn’t thrilled with the idea of the film going straight to Prime Video, and I’d have to agree. We were treated to the world premiere at SXSW to a packed audience where there were many oohs and ahhs. I can honestly say this would have been a hit in theaters where action flicks like these are designed to be experienced.

RELATED: Why SXSW Is the Perfect Way to Debut ROAD HOUSE

All in all, Road House is a solid film full of one-liners and jaw-dropping fight scenes that make you grateful for a remake. Liman created something worth acknowledging on its own. The final showdown is one for the books, as Gyllenhaal boldly hangs in there with McGregor. This is also the time to thank his nutritionist and trainer for getting the actor into the insane shape that makes you forget he was once our bubble boy.

About Road House

Road House Poster Jake Gyllenhaal

Release Date: March 21, 2024
Director: Doug Liman
Writer: Anthony Bagarozzi, Chuck Mondry, and R. Lance Hill
Executive Producers: Audie Attar, Aaron Auch, Alison Winter, and JJ Hook
Producers: Joel Silver, Stephen Mirrione, and Brian M. O’Neill
Cinematography: Henry Braham
Production: Greg Barry
Distribution: Amazon Prime Video
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Conor McGregor, Daniela Melchior, Jessica Williams, Lukas Gage, Billy Magnussen, Darren Barnet, Post Malone, Joaquim de Almeida, Dominique Columbus, Arturo Castro, Beau Knapp, and JD Pardo.

Synopsis: Road House stars Jake Gyllenhaal as Dalton, an ex-UFC fighter trying to escape his dark past and his penchant for violence, in this adrenaline-fueled actioner. Dalton is barely scraping by on the reputation that still precedes him when he is spotted by Frankie (Jessica Williams), owner of a roadhouse in the Florida Keys. She hires him to be her new bouncer in hopes of stopping a violent gang, working for crime boss Brandt (Billy Magnussen), from destroying her beloved bar.

Even five to one, Brandt’s crew is no match for Dalton’s skills. But the stakes get higher with the arrival of ruthless gun-for-hire, Knox (Conor McGregor). As the brutal brawls and bloodshed escalate, the tropical Keys prove more dangerous than anything Dalton ever faced in the Octagon. Also starring Daniela Melchior, Joaquim De Almeida, Lukas Gage.

Will you be checking out Road House on Prime Video? Do you think Jake has action-star potential? How do you feel about a remake of the Swayze classic? Let us know what you think on social media!

KEEP READING: THE FALL GUY Review: Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt Charm in Action-Packed Rom-Com