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Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

2024’s “Road House:” Should have kept it off the watchlist

I’ve had 1989’s “Road House” on my watchlist for a while; not for any particular reason other than that it’s an 80’s movie, and I’ve been determined to consume as many films from the decade as possible since middle school. 


Then I see an ad on my FireStick TV that the mother company, Amazon Prime, is releasing a reboot of the same name starring Jake Gyllenhaal, and I thought, why not tackle this one first? What better chance for an impartial critique could a reboot ask for?


Turns out, on its own, 2024’s “Road House” has a few bright spots in a decent joke or two and a fun location, but overall, it’s a pretty generic action film. 


The story follows former UFC fighter Elwood Dalton (Gyllenhaal) as he’s recruited to be a bouncer for an atypically rowdy roadhouse in the Florida Keys, called “The Road House,” two words. As Dalton gets to work setting the joint straight, he discovers a conspiracy that threatens the establishment, and himself. And then Post Malone and Connor McGregor are in there somewhere too. 


If that sounds like a pretty cliche action movie setup, that’s because it is; they even try to lampshade it a few times, as one of the characters continually points out how Dalton’s story sounds like a classic western. 


There’s nothing inherently wrong with that, trying to do just a classic, good old fashion action movie, it’s just not very interesting at this point. Seeing the same tropes- the stranger with the mysterious past, the enemies to lovers relationship, the rich guy trying to take down the mom and pop shop- without anything else to elevate it or make it stand out is just boring. 


That being said, there were a few things here and there I liked, they were just so few and far between that they couldn’t really save it. 


The location was one of those things; the backdrop of the Florida Keys, or what was supposed to be the Florida Keys anyways, I’ve never been there to say for certain, made for some nice visuals here and there. One of the most memorable moments of the film saw the two leads drive a boat out to a sandbar, where they set up lounge chairs and a cooler for a date. Not only were the visuals really stunning, but the idea felt fresh and different. 


Maybe it’s just my soft spot for tropical, summer theming, but they could’ve done more things like that to utilize the location, and show that the place is paradise rather than having characters tell me over and over again. 


Gyllenhaal was a very effective, engaging lead; he delivered on the classic “tough action guy” requirements while also managing to add a convincing level of charm to the character. He was probably the best part of the movie. 


He was the only character who was ever actually funny; I really liked his “I hear there’s a hospital about twenty minutes away” bit, and the very casual, nonchalant, almost John Wick way he treated beating people up, and then explaining their injuries to them. He gave the best performance, hands down. 


The problem with that arises when everyone else pales in comparison; Gyllenhaal’s performance was leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else’s, creating this weird dynamic where the rest of the cast almost felt like they were in a different movie entirely. Gyllenhaal felt like the only one who knew what he was doing, and managed to accomplish what he was going for. Everyone else felt like a caricature. 


Even despite his successful performance, Gyllenhaal’s character, on a writing and development level, leaves a lot to be desired. He doesn’t really undergo any kind of change or arc; something happened that ended his fighting career, he’s struggling to make ends meet, he takes this job to fix this roadhouse…and then presumably goes back to struggling and hating himself afterwards. 


Whereas I thought his struggle with aggression was going to end in some kind of lesson that violence isn’t the answer or whatever, he essentially just went on a killing spree and didn’t face any consequences for it. At a certain point, it becomes difficult to keep rooting for the character, even if the performance is a good one, when they’re not doing anything to change themselves or their situation. 


Beyond that, the film’s worst definitive offense is the camera work. The majority of the effects and the way they’re captured are terrible. This movie has its fair share of car crashes, and none of them look good. 


As for the fight choreography, I can’t really speak on it much, because I couldn’t see the majority of it. Every fight scene brimmed with a million cuts and less than convincing special effects. Sometimes they tried to mix it up and do weird first person perspective shots, which also looked horrible and were very disorienting. Whereas a lot of other mistakes this movie makes are about on par with any other action beat-em-up, the poor camera work and the consequences of it are definitely below average. 


Overall, 2024’s “Road House” is fine; it’s not that good or that bad, it’s fine. Your dad would probably like it. It’s not the best action movie out there, but it’s not the worst either. There is a story that can be followed, and Gyllenhaal does an above average job in the lead. I’m interested to get to 1989’s “Road House” someday and see how that compares.

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