SXSW 2024: A Review of Jake Gyllenhaal’s ‘Road House’ Revival

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Jake Gyllenhaal is no Swayze, but the new Road House still rocks!

I’m going to start this review by acknowledging that there is simply no universe where a Road House reboot starring Jake Gyllenhaal could even come close to living up to the awesomeness of the timeless original. 

Swayze and Gyllenhaal are about as far apart as two human beings could be, and no — Gyllenhaal’s Dalton is nothing close to Swayze’s iconic performance.

That being said, if you can ignore all of the sacrilege, the new Road House isn’t a bad action movie. It’s fun, it’s dumb, and Conor McGregor nearly steals the show completely anyway. So, if you like dumb, modern, ultimate action, then Road House might still be for you.

UAMC Reviews Road House (2024)

Making its premiere at the 2024 SXSW Film Festival, it certainly felt like the filmmakers and promoters of Road House were hoping that it would get a friendly boost before being released by Amazon MGM Studios via Prime Video on March 21, 2024.

And while the film could certainly use some favorable boosting as parts of it feel like they were barely picture-locked a few weeks ago, it’s overall a decent movie that doesn’t attempt to do much and handles its fights well enough to serve as an 80s/90s era action movie made today.

Gyllenhaal does seem to enjoy the role quite a bit. He doesn’t play Swayze per se, but he seems to feel like he’s a character from the same universe. But, you know, with a modern MMA tinge.

Not Trying to Beat the Original

The few things that stood out most to me from the premiere of Road House was that it didn’t feel like it was trying to “recreate” or “reboot” the original Road House too much. It also didn’t seem to be particularly well-thought-out in terms of script and direction at times, so it kind of gives an elevated DTV quality that’s powered mostly by Gyllenhaal and McGregor.

There’s no Sam Elliot replacement either, which is nice because I can’t think of anyone who could step into those shoes for the life of me. The love story is a bit similar though, and the main bad guy arc is about the same. However, both are different enough that I don’t think anyone will care one way or the other about the decision.

The biggest issue I might personally have with the film was the copious amount of CGI used in the fight scenes. Doug Liman is a solid and accomplished action director, so there are some pretty cool shots and sequences in the fights, but the CGI elements (like head hits and glasses breaking) all seemed to be just recently rendered, and of a quality that it’s hard not to notice when they’re inserted in.

Conor McGregor Feels Ultimate

Conor McGregor was also a huge bright spot for the film. For someone who is about as non-actor as a non-actor can be, he has an energy to him both on the screen and on the stage at the premiere. 

His character is an ambitious ball of energy in the film too with a very chaotic, almost Coen-y level of otherworldly-ness to him, that makes his scenes just super awesome and fun to follow just trying to guess what happens to him next.

If McGregor does want to continue acting, and his projects give him enough leeway to just be his goofy self in the films, I could see him being a rare action star who would have easily fit in with the ultimate generation of the 80s/90s.

How Ultimate is it?

All that being said, I think there was plenty enough to like about the film to enjoy the premiere, and would recommend checking it out on streaming. I’m not super into the world of MMA and UFC, but it seems to aim its sights at that fandom as well, which might introduce the original to a revival which could be cool.

Other than that, it’s not particularly terrible or too amazing, but certainly the ultimate action movie watch-worthy with friends over beer and pizza.