Prime Time Hit: Unpacking the Success of the 'Road House' Remake

Action from the end of the eighties Road House, in which the main role is played by the late Patrick Swayze, is considered a classic of the genre, and the remake of the film from 2024 breaks viewership records

by Sededin Dedovic
Prime Time Hit: Unpacking the Success of the 'Road House' Remake
© Prime Video / YOutube channel

In the 1980s, Patrick Swayze burst onto the Hollywood scene in style, rising to global stardom. In 1989, two films with Swayze premiered - the first, a crime drama called "Next of Kin", while the second is the legendary action thriller "Road House".

In "Road House," Swayze stars as Dalton, a former philosophy student and martial arts expert who becomes a bouncer at a troubled nightclub. The club, targeted by a criminal group, sees Dalton restore order with the help of allies.

He wins the heart of the beautiful Elizabeth and, despite the loss of his wise friend Garrett, triumphs in the showdown with the criminals. "Road House" is filled with fun moments, rich action and embodies the spirit of 80's cinema, complete with a series of memorable lines.

The film especially attracted bouncers and security personnel at clubs of all kinds. For the remake of the film, the streaming service "Prime Video" gathered an intriguing team, with director Doug Liman ("The Bourne Identity", "Edge of Tomorrow") at the helm and Jake Gyllenhaal leading the cast, accompanied by the unexpected appearance of UFC star Conor McGregor who made this film even more popular because everyone wants to see this Irishman in a role other than a UFC fighter.

News recently broke that "Road House" became the most watched content in the history of the streaming service Prime Video, with over 50 million viewers, according to their data, who watched the remake, which bypassed the theatrical distribution.

Road House© Prime Video / YOutube channel

The audience is introduced to the new Dalton in the ring - a former UFC fighter who survives by participating in underground fights. Scarred by the events of his past, Dalton contemplates suicide until one evening when Frankie, a bar owner in Florida, offers him a lucrative job.

Reluctant at first, Dalton eventually accepts, abandoning his suicidal thoughts and heading to Florida to restore order at a bar targeted by Ben Brandt, the leader of a local crime syndicate. Liman tried to deviate from the 1989 film in certain aspects, but the new version still reflects its structure.

Like a western, a lone rider arrives in town, burdened by past traumas, changing the power dynamic and helping the vulnerable fight the terror of various local bandits. However, these elements, adjusted for modern times, make for a rather uninspiring and weak action film.

Jake Gyllenhaal's somewhat surprising interpretation of the new, modern Dalton adds an interesting dimension. While Gyllenhaal has already established a respectable career, action roles like his portrayal in Liman's film don't necessarily highlight the actor's career trajectory.

His performance in "Road House" is among the weakest of his career. Despite the buildup, Gyllenhaal's character lacks depth and fails to captivate audiences. Regardless of Dalton's past trauma and experiences in the ring that led to his retirement, the main protagonist seems hesitant, acts strange, and seems even stranger in his interactions with the environment and other characters in the film.

The final showdown with a furious Knox is a massacre without limits. While Knox appears as the most dangerous antagonist, the film contains a series of bizarre decisions and unconvincing character portraits.

Road House 2023© Prime Video / YOutube channel

Director Doug Liman's credits include "The Bourne Identity" with Matt Damon, and he brings some of that kinetic style to the fight sequences, which are fast and brutal.

After bulking up for the performance, Gyllenhaal brings an extra dose of smarts to this incarnation, but his dark secret and desire to harness his vengeful side feel particularly corny, not that it really matters. "Road House" functions primarily as an action film, and its key aspect is the action sequences - their believability and the locations in which they take place.

This is where Knox's portrayal, particularly Conor McGregor's appearance, becomes significant. Like the aforementioned Ben Brandt, the head of a criminal organization, McGregor also veers into caricature territory, marked by inarticulate shouting and overacting.

Despite McGregor's presence, some of the action sequences look visually appealing and believable, although they are diminished by their reliance on CGI, which significantly diminishes the impact of Dalton's confrontations with the criminal organization.

Millions of views on a streaming service, an impressive actor-director duo, Conor McGregor - all contribute to the narrative surrounding the remake of the 1989 film. However, none of these elements can hide the fact that this is another remake that wears out fast and even faster he forgets.

If you are in favor of watching a movie with your friends in a relaxed way, then watch Road House, but if you want a new experience because of the original movie, we recommend you to watch the one from 1989 again.