Road House


In 1989 the action film Road House was released. It starred Patrick Swayze, who had already shot to fame starring in the 1987 hit Dirty Dancing. It’s by no means a classic, and certainly didn’t merit its straight-to-DVD sequel Road House 2: Last Call in 2006, which Swayze wisely steered well clear of.

So although the original doesn’t exactly jump out as needing a remake, that’s exactly what we have here, with director Doug Liman’s version starring the always versatile Jake Gyllenhaal.

boom reviews Road House
listen, if you could pass my number onto your sister, that would be great.

You can make a pretty penny in underground fights, and Elwood Dalton (Gyllenhaal) should know. He’s not exactly playing the game however, by fighting amateurs and not letting on about his professional status within the MMA.

He gets approached by a young woman after an event, who says she may have some work for him down in the Florida Keys. He thanks her, but tells her he’s not interested, but she gives him her number just in case.

And not long after, he does have a change of heart, slightly forced upon him, and decides to check this job out.

It’s being the main security guy at a bar known as the Road House, which the woman he met, Frankie (Jessica Williams), owns. They’ve been getting some rough clientele in of late, which isn’t good for business.

With his particular set of skills, Dalton is happy to oblige, unaware that he’s in the middle of a long dispute over property development, and someone wants the Road House and is prepared to go to great lengths to get it, which means by foul means if necessary.

boom reviews Road House
Listen I didn't say I didn't like Guinness, it just gives me the shits!

American director Doug Liman had a pretty good run of films early on in his career, that included 1996’s Swingers, 2002’s The Bourne Identity and 2014’s Edge of Tomorrow. Since then however, his output has been average at best, with his last film, 2021’s Chaos Walking, being shockingly poor.

Thankfully this then, sees a return to form, as such, with the closest thing to a genuine eighties action flick.

It’s the perfect Saturday night film, where you just want to switch off and indulge in some cheesy, action-filled fun. It’s no surprise to see legendary eighties producer Joel Silver on board, whose credits include Weird Science, Commando, Predator, Die Hard, and as well as the original Road House itself.

And Liman doesn’t hold back in producing the type of film that would sit comfortably alongside those titles, and not look out of place. His direction here is kinetic and fluid, with some bone-crunching action scenes, which are guaranteed crowd pleasers.

Gyllenhaal, despite knowing the not completely serious tone of the piece, still bulked up for his MMA fighting physique, where it’s clear his abs went full method to get double abs.

And then you have MMA superstar Conor McGregor making his big screen debut, looking like a demented Popeye, and making quite an impact before even raising a fist. If there’s a saying about being like an MMA duck to water, then that’s McGregor, who really does bare all for the sake of his arts.

The only disappointment then that comes is from the recent furore around it, with its director writing a public statement that he wants nothing to do with the film, accusing Amazon from backing down from their promise to release the film theatrically. News then subsequently came out that the director and its stars were offered a theatrical release, or choose a greater financial reward between them if they chose to release it exclusively on the streaming service, which it’s been proven they agreed to, with even Gyllenhaal stating that’s what happened, which doesn’t look great for Liman.

Still, the film has a lot of sass and energy about it, despite a weak storyline, that’s told with such style, it’s easy to overlook its flaws.

Road House is an archetypal eighties flick, as if released from a time capsule, that is bound to delight anyone brought up on the brute force, action menu of the era, with room for just one more.

we give this four out of five