"Road House"

Review: Jake Gyllenhaal's 'Road House' Remake a Perfectly Mixed Action Concoction

JC Alvarez READ TIME: 2 MIN.

If we've learned any lesson from Hollywood, it's that there is nothing new under the sun.

There is a lot to be gained from the seductive allure of a stable franchise and the well-wrought reboot. The '80s have proven to be a veritable well of inspiration, earmarked for its rebellion against conservative ideals and its out-loud portrayals of adolescent angst.

While muscle-bound marquee stars like Schwarzenegger and Stallone were making mayhem with seismic brawls, the legendarily graceful Patrick Swayze danced his way into our hearts as the hip-swiveling bad boy leading man in "Dirty Dancing," then took on a more visceral performance as Dalton in a hard-hitting action flick that became a cult favorite. 35 years later, "Road House" has joined the reboot revolution, with Jake Gyllenhaal stepping into the role that made everyone look at Swayze's quick-footed kickbacks from an entirely new perspective – as well as take inventory of many of the late actor's other prominent assets.

Gyllenhaal is particularly impressive flexing his pecs and rounding his meaty lats and assertive glutes for the camera (and let's not gloss over the washboard abs), but his riff on Dalton is a rage-filled animal. Bloody, bruised, and stabbed in the gut over and over again, the former UFC fighter has a reputation that strikes terror in anyone who recognizes him, especially in the underground fight clubs he inhabits.

This doesn't go unnoticed by Frankie (Jessica Williams), the owner of a resort bar in the Florida Keys who is in desperate straights. Dalton looks like the perfect solution to her problems, and Frankie makes him an offer he can't refuse: a major salary and lodging just to keep her establishment safe from some of the local riff raff.

Dalton takes the gig, but it isn't long before he figures out he may have bitten off more than he can chew. Protecting the road house means taking on unsavory characters that include a crooked real estate mogul (Billy Magnussen), a crew of hired thugs, and a particularly ruthless mercenary named Knox (Conor McGregor), who is every bit as crazy as you can imagine. "Road House" is a perfectly mixed concoction of calamity, with brutal action sequences and sweaty brawls.

Had "Road House" been released theatrically there would have been a huge audience that would have made it a success and a likely opening weekend champion, with any of the underpinning subversive "woke-ness" subtly shuttled aside. Given a streaming launch on Amazon Prime, it helps to cleanse the film's palette of any such controversy and keep it concentrated and a full-throttle melee for the senses, as is likely the intention of its producers and director Doug Liman.

Given producer Liman's proclivity for bombastic action ("Edge of Tomorrow," "Mr. & Mrs. Smith"), "Road House" unsurprisingly offers deeply exciting fight scenes along with some elegant character development. Gyllenhaal does a max job of inhabiting the flesh of his UFC brawler; Williams gives Frankie a great deal of entertaining dimension. Most of the rest of the cast, though, is window dressing applied to intervals leading to the elaborate fight sequences; the stars of "Road House" are the fights and Gyllenhaal's bare-chested beauty.

"Road House" premieres on Amazon Prime on March 21, 2024.

by JC Alvarez

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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