Road House: Totally New Dalton Totally New Movie

17th Dallas International Film Festival

By Daniel R. Durrett
In a reimagining of the original film starring Patrick Swayze, Road House is a film directed by Doug Liman (Swingers, The Edge of Tomorrow). This is an entirely new story with the use of the Dalton character as a catalyst for the retelling of a bouncer portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Nightcrawler). A former UFC middleweight fighter ends up working at a roadhouse in the Florida Keys where things are not as they seem. Lured to the Florida Keys by bar owner Frankie portrayed by Jessica Williams (Shrinking, The Daily Show) who seeks to save the bar she inherited from her Uncle. Frankie enlists Dalton’s help to clean up the bar. She, however, fails to explain the pitfalls that exist in the town of Glass Key, FL.

In the Kelly Lynch role of the Doctor who is too hot for scrubs is Daniela Melchior (The Suicide Squad, Fast X) Dr. Ellie the ER surgeon gets more than she expects from her involvement with her patient Dalton.

Dalton from the moment he arrives in town seems to mimic the waves that crash against the shore as he continually crashes up against other forces in the town such as J. D. Pardo (Mayans M.C., Revolution) who plays Dell, leader of the local bruisers who do well to set the bar for Dalton’s ass-kicking knowledge base.

The one constant of an 80s action film, most likely brought on by the video games of the era, is the big bad. The guy that is at the end of a level and you must understand the special move that is required to be the big bad and pass the level or beat the game. This role is dutifully portrayed by Billy Magnussen (Game Night, The Big Short) who fills in for the original Brad Wesley.

Conor McGregor (in his feature film debut) as Knox a psychopathic hit-man (as in punch) and does he deliver, his wild man persona translates from the ring to the screen nearly flawlessly. Now do I think he’s ready for the single dad drama in a starring role? Nope. But, with work, he will put forth some wonderful character roles in the future.

Stand-out performances for Co-Stars of note Arturo Castro (Broad City, Bushwick) and BK Cannon (Switched at Birth, The Politician). Castro brings a much lighter clash and adds much of the humor to the fist-fighting action. Cannon adds the sensitivity of a family with her portrayal of Laura the Road House’s head bartender.

The reason for this remake is that a producer who hopes to have lightning strike twice, Joel Silver produces the film, as he did the original. I’m not sure how much he had to do with this version artistically due to the fact of how long the remake seemed to take to get off the ground.

Excerpt taken from the Road House Wiki page:
*In November 2013, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures began development on the film with Rob Cohen directing and Michael Stokes writing. In September 2015, Cohen and Stokes vacated the project while Ronda Rousey was cast in the lead role. Filming was planned to begin sometime the following year. The next month, Nick Cassavetes boarded the film as writer and director. The project was put on hold until November 2021, when MGM began another attempt, with Jake Gyllenhaal set to star and Doug Liman to direct.

The studio prioritized the film despite Gyllenhaal and Liman’s commitments to Guy Ritchie’s The Covenant and Everest, respectively. A search for a new writer began to revise a previous draft by Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Mondry. By August 2022, Sheldon Turner had turned in a rewrite of the script. Ultimately, Bagarozzi and Mondry received final screenplay credit, with story credit given to the duo and the original story writer David Lee Henry.*

Road House had its world premiere on March 8, 2024, at South by Southwest as the opening night film, and currently streaming and released by Amazon MGM Studios. It was worth seeing on the big screen due to the action, Liman was right that MGM should have given the film a short run in theaters instead of sending it straight to streaming. I guess they need the general public to justify Prime purchases.

Notably missing from the original was some adaption of the song “Angel Eyes”, by the Jeff Healey Band. Though the soundtrack may have been one of the best parts of the remake, due to the number of live bands that performed covers as any traditional roadhouse would have experienced. Maintaining the traditional feel all the way down to the chicken wire covering the stage.

This Gyllenhaal reboot is well worth viewing, great music in a story with all the action and fights of the original. Keep your eyes peeled for the Double Duce reference, which was the name of the original name of the Road House.

15th Dallas International Film Festival