‘Road House’ bounces along on a wave of nostalgia in updating a guilty pleasure

‘Road House’ bounces along on a wave of nostalgia in updating a guilty pleasure - Entertainment - News

A Modern Twist on the Classic Brawler: “Road House” (2023) on Amazon Prime

The original 1989 film, “Road House,” has long been a cult favorite with its timeless quote, “Pain don’t hurt,” and the iconic performance of Patrick Swayze as the philosopher-bouncer. Thirty-five years later, Amazon Prime Video brings a refreshed take on this classic with Jake Gyllenhaal stepping into the role of the reluctant protector, Dalton. The new film offers an engaging mix of entertainment, silliness, and intense violence, albeit not always in that order.

Differences between the two include Gyllenhaal’s Dalton having a first name and being recruited to clean up a bar named The Road House in the Florida Keys rather than doing it by default. Dalton, a world-weary ex-mixed martial arts fighter, is reluctantly drawn to the task of removing the seedy elements from the bar by its new owner (Jessica Williams), who believes his reputation makes him the best man for the job.

Despite initial resistance, Dalton’s circumstances compel him to accept, quickly demonstrating that he’s someone not to be trifled with. In a tense exchange before the bar altercation, he asks a gang of motorcycle-riding hooligans if they have insurance and proceeds to neutralize them effortlessly – a scene reminiscent of the elevator sequence in “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”

While the film maintains similarities to its predecessor, such as an attractive emergency-room doctor (Daniela Melchior) and a stock villain (Billy Magnussen) bent on seizing control of the property, it also introduces new elements. A muscle-for-hire enlisted to handle Dalton is none other than UFC champion Conor McGregor, who brings a commanding physical presence. However, his acting abilities are still in development, evident when he delivers tough-guy dialogue.

Director Doug Liman, who helmed “The Bourne Identity,” infuses the fight sequences with energetic style and intensity, making them fast-paced and brutal. Gyllenhaal’s preparation for the role adds an extra layer to his portrayal of Dalton, who exhibits a sharp wit that sets this version apart. However, his dark past and inner turmoil feel somewhat clichéd compared to the original’s straightforward premise.

Like its predecessor, the 2023 “Road House” delivers a ridiculous finale as Dalton goes beyond just cleaning up The Road House and cleans up the entire lawless town. The picturesque setting offers a more visually appealing climax than the simple villain’s house raid in the original film.

Rebooting classics always comes with challenges, and “Road House” manages to capture what made the original appealing while introducing new elements. Keep in mind that trying to appear bigger on the outside isn’t the same as being truly big, much like Dalton’s journey in this film.

“Road House” premieres on March 21 on Amazon Prime Video and is rated R.