‘Road House’ Movie Review: New Town, Same Story

Same town, new story: we heard those words in the 1989 movie Road House. Fast forward 25 years, and we have a new town, same story with the new Amazon Studios movie Road House. Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) walks into an underground fight, ready to take on Carter (Post Malone), but the moment he takes his shirt off, Carter recognizes him and walks out of the fight. 

Dalton in the new Road House

Who is Dalton? He is a former UFC fighter who lost his career because he demolished his best friend in the middle of the octagon after the fight was over. Because of that, he is a hired gun who works the underground fight circuit for money. Enter Frankie (Jessica Williams), the owner of the Road House bar, who is looking for hired help as some unwelcoming faces keep arriving and tearing up the bar. 

Enter Ben Brandt (Billy Magnussen), who has taken over his dad’s business while he is in jail and wants to build this new infrastructure of buildings to turn Key West into his land. However, the lone person who hasn’t sold out to him is Frankie, and because of that, he keeps sending guys to tear the bar up until she sells. This leads to Dalton, Knox (Conor McGregor), and many others entering the fold to battle it out. 

Let me start by saying don’t walk into this movie thinking you are seeing a remake of the 1989 movie because you will walk in with a clouded judgment. If you think along the lines of the first movie but my slightly altered version of it, new town, the same story, you will find yourself having a great time. 

Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor star in ROAD HOUSE
Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor star in Road House. Image courtesy of Prime Video.

Gyllenhaal’s Dalton is a believable baddie in Road House

Road House writers Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Mondrey had one job: to make Dalton a certified badass, especially leading up to his battle with Knox. If they didn’t get it right, the entire movie would fail. But they did, and it works. We all know that Conor McGregor is a monster, and while he plays a character, you need someone who looks, walks, and talks his way to win a one-on-one battle against him. 

The moment you see Dalton walk into that underground fight scene and Carter walk out of the building, you know he is a badass. But the momentum continued, and when he walked into a room, his reputation would follow him. Dalton didn’t have to talk, and people were scared. However, as soon as he starts fighting, you see a man who is capable of killing you with his bare hands. 

Jake Gyllenhaal and Lukas Gage star in ROAD HOUSE
Jake Gyllenhaal and Lukas Gage in Road House. Image courtesy of Prime Video.

Dalton is a washed-up athlete who made a huge mistake and doesn’t believe he deserves good things in his life. There is a moment early on in the film where he gets stabbed in the middle of a fight, and when he goes to the doctor, Ellie (Daniela Melchior) goes to help him stitch a stab wound, and he says, “No, I deserve to feel the pain.” That moment meant so much to me because it made me empathize with Dalton in a way I didn’t expect to. 

Few people can match Jake Gyllenhaal’s versatility in the world of acting. Although this isn’t his first time as a fighter (the underrated Southpaw), this was a different type of fighting. You saw a broken man in Gyllenhaal’s interpretation of Dalton, but towards the end of the film, you saw a man snap in a way that he didn’t want to but was given no choice. Gyllenhaal delivers a top-notch performance in this film. 

The casting of Conor McGregor as the main villain in this movie was a brilliant choice, especially with Dalton’s UFC background. On top of that, McGregor knows how to talk the talk, and he brought that level of Irish sarcasm he delivers leading up to his fights in the role of Knox. I enjoyed his battles with Gyllenhaal, even the final battle, which got a little cheesy. The actors made their big fight important, and you knew that. 

Daniela Melchior - Road House Movie Review
Daniela Melchior in Road House. Image courtesy of Prime Video.

The rest of the cast fills out perfectly, with Jessica Williams being an absolute delight as Frankie. She won my heart with her strong work in the best TV show in 2023, Shrinkingand her delicate charm as Frankie carried such a strong balance through all the testosterone. The other person who helped with that was Daniela Melchior as Ellie. She played the love interest of Dalton, and her chemistry with Gyllenhaal was electric. Also, I need to shout out Hannah Love Lanier, who had a small but pivotal role as Charlie. She was an absolute delight every time she was on the screen. 

Road House was totally worth it on the big screen

I can understand why Doug Liman wanted people to see his film on the big screen. As one of the rare few who saw it as Liman intended, it was totally worth it. That said, I can see where the Amazon heads were because this movie has the number one streaming movie written all over it. The general audience will eat this movie up and watch it multiple times. Liman does a great job with the fight sequences, bringing the camera so close to the action you feel like you are in the fight. 

Ultimately, I had an absolute blast with Road House. It exceeded my expectations and made for such an action-packed ride that I can’t wait to rewatch it twenty times. The pairing of Jake Gyllenhaal and Doug Liman is one I hope we get to see work again, and I would even like them to do a Road House 2. Do not miss this when it releases on Prime Video.

Road House is now streaming on Prime Video.

Are you planning to catch up with Dalton and Jake Gyllenhaal in Road House? Let us know on X @MoviesWeTexted.

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