de facto film reviews 1 star

Director Doug Liman (Swingers, Go, The Bourne Identity) does not have a track record that indicates he would know better than to have remade Road House, the 1989 cult classic starring the late Patrick Swayze. So, here we are, in 2024, watching a new, UFC-fueled tale of another “cooler” (the person who chills the anger in the room in a rowdy club or bar) once again named Dalton. This time, instead of a Missouri roadside tavern, it is a Florida Keys tiki bar, where, supposedly, Ernest Hemingway once enjoyed his brews. If only Hemingway had gotten a look at this script, which is among the most ridiculous big budget works in many moons.

What we have is a film with an absolutely ripped Jake Gyllenhaal, amidst a cast that is largely unknown, untried and untalented. This begins with Connor McGregor, the former UFC star, who plays his part chewing so much scenery, the sets likely had to be built three times a day. Jessica Williams, who is convincing in her role on Apple Tv’s Shrinking, gives the flattest performance in the movie, playing Frankie, the owner of The Road House, who hires Dalton to come help her keep away the toughs. None of the characters or performances are memorable, save perhaps Gyllenhaal, who completely gives over to the madness driving this wreck of a film.

Roadhouse (2024)

Courtesy Amazon Studios/MGM

What makes it so bad, one might wonder, and one would be better served trying to ascertain what does not make it bad. The dialogue is pitiful, with “jokes” that never quite land where they are supposed to. The plot is a mess, with the story and character motivations equally abysmal. Unlike in the first film, there is no reason to care about Dalton. He is not particularly likeable, or even interesting, beyond what the actor brings to the part.

Indeed, between the thin script and slimmer acting, there is nothing to chew on-of course, McGregor, acting as though he were a demonic leprechaun, has eaten everything else-in this film. This is not a look at trauma and how it informs actions, though it tries to be. The original film was much clearer, emotionally and psychologically, despite not being any deep work of art, itself. That film wisely introduced smaller elements, like the blind friend, and gradually built up the relationship between Dalton and the leading lady. Here, the two express anger, there’s a joke or two, a bit more sniping, and a boat ride that ends with something predictable.

Road House' 2024

Courtesy Amazon Studios/MGM

This is one of the most unoriginal remakes ever devised. It takes everything good about the original and forgets it, beyond a very surface level. The villains are less than caricatures, and the scenery is wasted in a menagerie of boat chases, explosion and splintered wood. One favorite visual-not of mine-in the film is of Dalton walking down a road, being harassed by the latest faceless baddie, all of which Liman stages in less than even perfunctory fashion. This is an action film, yes, but it lacks tension or style. In a film where boats skip onto the land, crocodiles eat would be assassins and bar brawls occur as frequently as Michael Phelps collected medals at the Olympics, you would hope at least one of them would be memorable, but they are not.

In fact, the only thing memorable about the film is…wait, what was that again? Do not waste your time with this. Get a hobby. Read a book. Collect money for a worthy cause. Watch paint dry, but do not waste your time with this. Consider it a public service announcement. Hell, go watch the first film. You will have a better time

ROAD HOUSE is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video