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Jewish Actor Jake Gyllenhaal Doesn’t Pull Punches In ‘Road House’

Remake of the 1989 film is heavy on action, but light on characterization; UFC star Conor McGregor shines in his screen debut.
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March 26, 2024
Conor McGregor and Jake Gyllenhaal attend the “Road House” New York Premiere at Jazz at Lincoln Center on March 19, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Jake Gyllenhaal is a tremendous actor who can play many different types of roles. In Amazon Prime’s “Road House” — a remake of the 1989 Patrick Swayze vehicle — he is supremely chiseled and believable as UFC fighter Elwood Dalton. The fight scenes are wonderfully choreographed and fun. Conor McGregor, in his acting debut, is an over-the-top antagonist.

Gyllenhaal is excellent but his role is pretty one-dimensional , so we don’t get to see more of his skills. The love story between him and Ellie (Daniela Melchior) feels wedged in and is little more than one short make out session. As Ben Brandt, a villain who is in over his head, Billy Magnussen, who played a Nazi in “Survivor” does a fine job.

For what he was asked to do, McGregor does a fine job and based on his physique and charisma, there is no doubt he has a fine future in Hollywood, though I’d like to see him have scenes that are more challenging.

The story, set in the Florida Keys, finds Dalton taking a $5,000 a week job as a bouncer at a bar where fights are a regular occurrence. There is a corrupt sheriff (Joaquim de Almeida, who basically mails in this performance), and Lukas Cage is serviceable in a small role as a bouncer. What’s missing in the remake is the camaraderie Patrick Swayzee and Sam Shepard had in the original film.

If you’re simply looking for a movie where people get a beat-down and you want tom see cool action scenes, this is a movie for you. Those looking to see a film with muscular guys will also like it.

The film is too predictable but the fight scenes are cool as hell. The decision not to get Dalton bogged down in any romance is an understandable choice, but as a result, some later scenes become cumbersome.

Like the original, this “Road House” is basically a way to show buff men get sweaty and fight.  There is naturally huge interest for McGregor, the most famous UFC fighter of all time.  But I wish this script would have allowed Dalton to have depth, because Gyllenhaal has a big bag of tricks in his arsenal but was only asked to open it a third of the way. Arturo Castro is funny as Moe, who provides needed comic relief.

As a UFC fan, I enjoyed seeing McGregor and think he did well in a one-note part and Gyllenhaal was believable. So, in that sense, the film was a success even though it does not compare to the original and this film is generous on the fight scenes, but skimpy on characterization.

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