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Road House

Updated: May 1

The original 1989 Patrick Swayze "Road House" was, for me, a goofy half-ass action flick coasting on Swayze's charm and giant hair. There wasn't much to it. Based on some of the fan reactions to the absolute blast of a remake ROAD HOUSE, the original was apparently a modern classic to some.

For me, Jake Gyllenhaal's new take as a former UFC fighter trying in vain to hide from his famous past, combined with Doug Liman's fantastic action scenes create a film so superior to the original, they shouldn't be talked about in the same sentence.

Liman has created some of the best action thrillers of the past 20 years, including "Mr & Mrs Smith", "The Bourne Identity" and the hugely underappreciated "Edge of Tomorrow". He's in fine form once again.

We've seen Gyllenhaal in this kind of shape before in the superb boxing drama "Southpaw", but this time he's ready for mostly tongue-in-cheek fun with a minor dose of flashback drama punched in.

Dalton lands in a tiny town in the Florida keys that's run by the Brandt family, one of those shadowy crime organizations who's patriarch is currently in jail. His son Ben (Billy Magnussen, having even more fun than he did in "No Time To Die") is living the high life while Pops is incarcerated. He's got a plan for the island that demands that the local bar, the Road House, be taken out of commission. He's a bit too focused on his yacht, designer suits and a clean shave to be a great boss.

More bad news for Ben, second generation Road House owner Frankie, played by Jessica Williams (Shrinking), has just hired Dalton for $5k a week to help keep out the ever escalating bunch of violent numb nuts that keep bashing up the place.

The set up is fun, the characters are colorful and it really kicks into gear when Dalton takes on 5 trouble makers at once, his first night on the job. Gyllenhaal is hilarious, spewing one liners perfectly. Once the fight starts, I laughed out loud. He kicks their asses in so many ways that I had to watch the fight twice. Dalton talks everyone through what he's going to do to them and then proceeds to do it.

The danger quotient ups considerably when the senior Brandt hires an absolute madman mercenary, Knox, to take care of Dalton and the Road House once and for all.

Knox is played by Conor McGregor in his first acting role, and I'm not sure he was acting at all. He is an off-the-rails lunatic, beating the bejeezus out of anyone and everyone in his path. He struts around buck-naked more than once while wise cracking, smoking a stogie and taking assault & battery to new heights. I thought McGregor was hilarious, leaping off the screen and bringing real danger to the story. He's a freakin' nut case of the highest order.

He does know how to make an entrance, strutting or driving.

Daniela Melchior (The Suicide Squad, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3) is well cast as local ER doctor Ellie, who sees Dalton fairly often for obvious reasons.

Arturo Castro (The Menu) delivers laughs as Moe, the only normal member of Ben's goon squad and Joaquim de Almeida (Clear and Present Danger, 24) is menacing as the local police chief who doesn't seem too concerned with the law.

Lukas Gage (Fargo) also stands out as Billy,

ROAD HOUSE is all about its action sequences, and they are excellent.

A boat face off near the conclusion is so much fun I watched it three times. A near flawless blend of physical and CGI stunts, it's Liman at his creative best.

The brawl that Knox incites at the bar with multiple waves of his goons is relentless and the final showdown (come on, you knew there would be one) between Knox and Dalton is worth the price of admission.

It stands alongside any fight in a Bond or a Bourne movie for sheer brutality, but benefits from Dalton's Schwarzenegger style one liners, which Jake delivers perfectly. It's a western showdown UFC style.

"Who taught you shapes?"

"This piano is out of tune..."

" I just slapped you! Are you all right?"

The entire film is set to an enjoyable mix of bar music courtesy of the bar bands at the Road House, who never stop for any amount of blood letting. Post Malone even squeezes in a song and a cameo as a winner at a fight club. Christophe Beck (Ant-Man, WandaVision) supplies a solid action score when the band takes a break.

I see a bunch of people bitching that CGI is used in some of the fight scenes. So what? The fight scenes are incredible. Stop complaining and enjoy what Liman is serving up!

For me, ROAD HOUSE is violent, over-the-top fun served up by one of the best action directors in the business and Gyllenhaal, one of our most diverse & talented actors leading a fun cast. Their goal is to create a fun Friday night action flick.

Well done boys, I had a blast.

Road House gets a bruised, beaten and beer soaked B+.




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