‘Road House’ Review: Suffers from One Too Many Hits to the Head

Written by Matt Rodriguez

While getting patched up at the hospital after being stabbed with a knife, former UFC fighter turned bouncer Elwood Dalton is asked if he ever wins any of his fights to which he responds, “no one ever wins a fight.” No one wins watching Road House either. The original 1989 film starring Patrick Swayze was never a great film but it has gained a cult following a B-movie status over the years. The new Road House suffers from one too many hits to the head despites Jake Gyllenhaal’s attempts to keep the film on its feet. From a lackluster story to fights that land with a thud, Road House struggles to land a single blow. Better get ready to ring that bell, because this film is over before it’s even begun.

After leaving the UFC, struggling fighter Elwood Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) finds himself traveling to a small seaside community of the Florida Keys to work at The Roadhouse, a bar that has become infamous for its rowdy patrons and the destruction they cause. None of that seems to faze Dalton, who has no trouble handling the hooligans that sent all previous bouncers running. But when Dalton learns the real reason behind the ruckus surrounding the bar, he finds he may be in a bit over his head on this one. Turns out local “businessman” Ben Brandt (Billy Magnussen) is try to build a huge resort in the area and the Roadhouse is in the way so he sends his goons to deliver a message. Dalton is no pushover, however, and it’s going to take way more than pure brawn to make him stand down.

Road House doesn’t try to be something its not, but even then it struggles to deliver anything that resembles entertainment. Gyllenhaal plays Dalton in a more reserved fashion, walking into every fight like he’s already won. As mentioned before though, no one ever wins a fight. There’s also UFC star Connor McGregor who makes his feature film debut as Knox, the lead brute who gets things done by sheer force. He’s as outrageous in the film as he is in real life, but it rarely ever comes together for the character. Like everything else with the film, he’s all bark and little bite.

The most disappointing thing about Road House are the fights. The camera work and choreography are sloppy. Both are used to hide everyone’s inability to throw or take a punch as they always seem to land without so much as a thud. Don’t get me wrong, everyone looks phenomenal especially Jake Gyllenhaal who is the most ripped he’s ever been. But the good looks don’t come with the fighting skills to match. Messy CGI is also noticeably distracting. The actors pop from the backgrounds and sped up camera work attempts to hide CGI cuts, but it all looks like ragdolls being thrown around in an environment where the physics aren’t quite right. I couldn’t help but be reminded of the old Mortal Kombat games of the 90s where actors were filmed in front of backdrops and then turned into sprites. The fights feel like they were pulled out of a video game.

I applaud Jake Gyllenhaal for trying something different for Road House. It unfortunately just doesn’t work. Everyone appears to be on different pages. I will say that Arturo Castro looks to be having the most fun playing a biker gangster who seems to be just looking for a friend. The film just never comes together in the end. It flails about, completely missing its mark time and time again. It’s impossible to live up to the legacy and pure charisma of Patrick Swayze, but Road House doesn’t even come close.

  • Road House


From a lackluster story to fights that land with a thud, Road House struggles to land a single blow. Better get ready to ring that bell, because this film is over before it’s even begun.

About the author

Matt Rodriguez

Owner and Chief Editor of Shakefire.