Arts & Ent., REVIEW

A contemporary ’80s tough guy movie 

Jake Gyllenhaal stars as Elwood Dalton in Road House

Like a lot of millennials, I was first introduced to a lot of ’80’s movies via Family Guy. From that context, I gathered that the film Road House involved Patrick Swayze in mom jeans and violence, but other than that, I couldn’t tell you anything else. 

I can tell you a bit about the 2024 re-imagining with Jake Gyllenhaal, though. 

It’s fine. 

It has the violence, it has that charmingly simplistic ’80s DNA, and it wasn’t painful. Sometimes that’s all you can ask of a remake. 

The ’80s simplicity that Road House can’t help but wear on its sleeve is in itself very reminiscent of classic westerns, but if you somehow miss that relationship don’t worry— the characters will explicitly tell you as much and continue to beat you over the head with it, no pun intended. 

Elwood Dalton, former UFC champion and current wanderer, is hired to be a bouncer at a bar and cleans up the town in the process, using arm guns rather than actual guns. The moral lines are very clear despite Dalton’s angst over whether or not he is one of the good guys. 

Heads get busted, testosterone gets brandished, the bad guys get theirs. Road House is not high art, but it does deliver on a lot of the cheap thrills that are expected of it. 

Jake Gyllenhaal and his shredded bod do just fine as Dalton, a protagonist who never seems to be in too much danger as he punches his way through countless mooks. 

The supporting characters are two-dimensional and bland, but the actors who portray them do the best they can. Real-life UFC champion Connor McGregor plays the most imposing of the villains with a scene-chewing ferocity that is sometimes amusing but more often than not comes off as obnoxious. 

The dialogue that all of these characters bandy about is poorly written but, to its credit, is also rarely outright cringe worthy. 

All of the negatives of Road House seem more indicative of its ’80s roots than any particular failing on behalf of the film’s cast and crew. 

It was a time when action stars were unstoppable, spectacle was paramount, the dialogue was secondary and schmaltz was abundant. 

This is Road House in a nutshell, but it is not entirely clear if the filmmakers did this on purpose, as it is not overtly corny but subtly so. 

It would have left much more of an impression if they went all in, but instead of glorious schmaltz we got something middling and fairly forgettable. 

But the action is fun and there is some charm to the stripped-down, bare bones plot. 

Road House is a relic of a simpler era of entertainment, and like the main character, it shows up on a Greyhound bus, sticks around for a bit, and leaves with few people being the wiser. 

But unlike Dalton and his abs, it won’t change your life, that’s for sure. 

Road House is now available on Amazon Prime. 

Article written by TJ Reid

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