New Flicks: Road House

Photo courtesy of Amazon MGM Studios
TOUGH GUYS: Knox (Conor McGregor, left) and Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal, right) square off in director Doug Liman’s Road House, streaming on Amazon Prime.

Doug Limon (The Bourne Identity, Edge of Tomorrow) directs this “not quite a remake” about a bouncer hired to clean up a fight-prone bar who ends up saving an entire community. It’s basically a Western, as this version self-reflexively acknowledges through future imperiled child and bookstore clerk, Charlie (Hannah Love Lanier), but instead of the new sheriff being dreamy Patrick Swayze, it’s dreamy Jake Gyllenhaal, a former UFC fighter capable of explosive violence.

If you take the film on its own terms, it’s not bad, but because of its source material, expectations run high, which is why the film has been panned by critics and audiences alike. Here’s why it’s not as bad as they think. 

This Dalton is a lot more complicated than Swayze’s Dalton because he knows he’s corrupted. His scam is to go to winner-take-all underground fights and beat the local champ … unless the local champ (in this case tattooed rapper Post Malone) recognizes Dalton and refuses to fight. Gyllenhaal’s Dalton is the kind of guy who’ll pummel five thugs and drive them to the hospital. He has something to atone for—beating his friend to death in the ring. It gives the story teeth. (121 min.)

—Glen Starkey

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