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SXSW 2024 Film Review: Get Ready to Rumble with Jake Gyllenhaal and Conor McGregor in ‘Road House’

When I think of the Florida Keys, I think of Bogie and Bacall, and Bertie Higgins singing “Key Largo” immediately gets stuck in my head. That didn’t happen with the world premiere of Florida Keys based Road House. Think instead, “body slam.”

The film starring Jake Gyllenhaal screened as part of the 2024 edition of the SXSW Conference and Festivals, which ran March 8 through 16. This was the thirty-first year of the film and TV festival, which included 118 feature films with 91 world premieres. The festival also included over 100 TV shows, short films, and extended reality (XR) experiences.

Conor McGregor and Jake Gyllenhaal
Conor McGregor and Jake Gyllenhaal on the ‘Road House’ red carpet

Reboot

Many people need to reboot their professional lives. Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, Life)  as Dalton needs to do exactly that. Dalton, a former UFC fighter meets bar owner Frankie, played by Jessica Williams (Shrinking, Love Life).

Frankie tells Dalton that lately her bar has been attracting “the wrong kind of clientele,” and she could use a bouncer. Seems like something Dalton could do easily.

Jessica Williams
Jessica Williams plays the owner of the road house

Dirty Details

The problems go a bit deeper than a couple of trouble makers. The hint that this is something bigger comes with Knox, played by Conor McGregor. Knox is a gun-for-hire and Dalton’s job goes from kicking out drunks to serious life-threatening battles.

Ben Brandt, played by Billy Magnussen, hires Knox. Magnussen played an ally of James Bond in No Time to Die. This time, he’s more of a Bond-villain type.

Lots of UFC style fighting, trucks crashing through things, boats exploding, and blood ensues. Also, my favorite line in the film delivered by Gyllenhaal: “People seem a little aggressive around here.”

On the Red Carpet

On the SXSW red carpet, actors and crew shared their thoughts about the film. This Road House is a remake of the original 1989 version which starred Patrick Swayze. A red carpet reporter asked Gyllenhaal about call backs to the original that he enjoyed. He said that there weren’t really any, but that he and Patrick Swayze had been friends, and that he hoped that Patrick would have been happy with this remake.

Cast member Lukas Gage was asked what he was taking away from this film. He admitted that before this film, he didn’t know how to properly throw a punch. He learned how on the film and showed the interviewer the proper way to align your arm.

Lukas Gage and Billy Magnussen
Lukas Gage and Billy Magnussen play bad guys

Both Lukas Gage and Conor McGregor pointed out that there was no CGI needed on this film. The fighting, flying through the air, and crashing into things was real.

McGregor said, “There was no pretending in it. It was full on with a lot of tough days on set and it was harder than real fighting. Throwing people over a bar, plunging over a bar yourself, and fighting in speed boats on the sea – it was something I underestimated.”

If that sounds like fun to you, Road House is your movie.

Next Round

Next year’s SXSW will take place March 7 through 15. You can find out more at their website or on Twitter (@sxsw), Facebook , Instagram, or LinkedIn .

About Leo Sopicki

Writer, photographer, graphic artist and technologist. I focus my creative efforts on celebrating the American virtues of self-reliance, individual initiative, volunteerism, tolerance and a healthy suspicion of power and authority.

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