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Road House Ending: The Movie Wraps In A Way That's Sneakily More Satisfying For The Villains, And It Bothers Me

 Jake Gyllenhaal stands smiling in front of a Greyhound bus in Road House.
Jake Gyllenhaal stands smiling in front of a Greyhound bus in Road House.

Warning: if you haven’t seen the blissfully bonkers beauty of Prime Video’s Road House remake, SPOILERS will be plentiful in this rundown. You’ve officially been warned, so be nice. 

I didn’t think I was going to even remotely dig director Doug Liman’s remake of Road House, and oh wow, am I glad I was wrong. Who’d have thought that almost two hours of Jake Gyllenhaal wanting to wreck shop, Conor McGregor acting like a real life Looney Tunes character, and Arturo Castro just wanting to ride bikes was my speed? But for as adrenaline-charged as this 2024 movie retread of the 1989 Patrick Swayze cult classic happens to be, it actually has a secretly dark ending.

As it turns out, Road House’s ending is sneakily more satisfying for the villains. If this was a different type of movie, I could accept that, as I love a properly dark ending. But after all of the fun, friendship and fights that came before this supposedly bittersweet resolution, I have to say that the ending kind of bothers me.

This is the last call for those trying to avoid spoilers, as we’re going deep; like, feed your enemies to an alligator, even when you tried to save them, deep. Don’t worry, if you want to read more about this particular project, sans spoilers, content like our official Road House review is available for your reading enrichment.

Conor McGregor in Road House 2024
Conor McGregor in Road House 2024

The (Almost Literal) Ending Of Road House

The big reason I warn you all about spoilers is if you haven’t seen the deliciously batshit Road House remake, you need to see it to believe it. But for those of you still here, the entire third act is where my joy and sorrow all comes from. On the surface, it’s an adrenaline-fueled good time, complete with Ben Brandt (Billy Magnussen) going full-tilt James Bond villain.

After his yacht gets Titanic’d thanks to one Elwood Dalton (Jake Gyllenhaal) trying to rescue love interest Ellie (Daniela Melchior), the aspiring resort magnate sets his sights on his ultimate goal. And in case you needed reminding, he flat out puts it on the table through this piece of dialogue:

I’ll just destroy the fuckin’ Road House myself.

Old Benny Boy has been trying to wreck the bar run by the always awesome Frankie (Jessica Williams) in order to build a resort on its land. Thinking his nemesis is disposed of, or at least occupied enough that he can make a break for it, he guns his speed boat towards Road House’s titular location.

From what we see happen next, it feels like Ben loses his overall battle, especially after henchman Knox (Conor McGregor) snaps his neck while fighting Dalton. And that’s after the man totally wipes out in his little speedboat, which crashes onto the Road House patio. Yet somehow, Benny’s last-minute petition to the Save A Bitch foundation may have come true!

Billy Magnussen looks at Jake Gyllenhaal with a face of determined anger in Road House.
Billy Magnussen looks at Jake Gyllenhaal with a face of determined anger in Road House.

Ben Brandt’s Dream Of Demolishing The Road House Practically Came True

By the end of Road House, the two main objectives of our hero’s quest have pretty much been dashed. Like any good hero, Dalton was trying to save the day and kill the bad guy. Objective one is outwardly rejected, as the mid-credits reveal shows us that Knox is still alive in the end, storming out of a hospital almost as naked as the moment he was introduced in Italy.

Seriously, boot up your Prime Video subscription and watch Road House if you haven’t already, because Conor McGregor’s trash talker totally makes it worthwhile. That's especially when you realize that he might actually be more of a hero than Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, because it’s Knox who snaps Ben Brandt’s neck! Score another reason why Road House's reboot is kinda better.

The greater curse comes from the fact that Elwood Dalton didn’t really save the Road House. As if Brandt Jr.’s speedboat on the back patio wasn’t bad enough, Knox’s dramatic entrance by way of crashing a truck through the doors, and into the bar, is a huge problem. Sure, Frankie says it’s fixable, but that massive damage is primed to present a cascade of problems.

Jessica Williams looks worried sitting behind a cluttered desk in Road House.
Jessica Williams looks worried sitting behind a cluttered desk in Road House.

I Question The Road House’s Insurance Coverage

Elbow grease isn’t going to be the problem with repairing Road House’s central location. Rather, it’s going to be the subject that not-so secretly dominates this plot: money. It not only makes the world go round and keeps the party going, but it’s what Frankie is going to need to repair the bar left to her by her late uncle.

I seriously question the Road House’s coverage considering the shape it was in before. Not to mention the fact that I know the big cost-saving measure she’ll probably engage in is to rebuild it with her employees’ help.

That is going to present a bigger problem in the next section of this discussion, but for now, let’s worry about the horrific amounts of overtime and/or missed shifts this is going to cause. Frankie plays the bar off as open at the end of Road House, but how long could she seriously run the place in that sort of condition?

Joaquim de Almeida stands in front of Jake Gyllenhaal in conversation wearing sunglasses in Road House.
Joaquim de Almeida stands in front of Jake Gyllenhaal in conversation wearing sunglasses in Road House.

Corrupt Florida Keys Officials Could Deliver The Win

Let’s put our villain sunglasses back on for a moment and ponder the following scenario. You want to close the titular dingy bar in Road House, but for some reason can’t convince Frankie to sell. Some roughneck by the name of Elwood Dalton tumbles into town and tries to put a cramp in your style, but even then, there’s a bunch of damage done to the bar. What do you do?

That’s right, you put pressure on your corrupt Florida Keys friends in positions of power to make it happen. With the reconstruction alone, Frankie could get slapped with a litany of problems. Lack of proper permits, substandard work and anything else one false inspection can uncover is all it takes to snatch this place out of her hands. And with Dalton back on the road, the knight in denim armor who attempted to save it all won’t be around to save anything.

Unless those last shots are what opens Road House 2: Mr. Dalton Goes To Tallahassee, the law has so many ways to exert pressure. And the mysterious Mr. Brandt, whom we only hear in Road House, has the best motivation to pull the trigger on such a plan: his son died as a result of these shenanigans. So while corrupt sheriff Big Dick (Joaquim de Almeida) may have befriended Elwood Dalton eventually, there are others who can easily take his place.

Kevin Carroll standing in front of a case of money in Road House.
Kevin Carroll standing in front of a case of money in Road House.

Dalton Could Have Given Brandt’s Money To The Road House… But Didn’t.

There is one good thing that comes out of the ending to Road House, as Dalton finds a good use for the bribe money he stole from a crooked sheriff. As a final act of kindness, we see that a nice sum of cash is left in the hands of Glass Books proprietor Stephen (Kevin Carroll). As one of the first people Dalton befriended when he rolled into town, along with his daughter Charlie (Hannah Lanier), their bookshop was torched, sending them both to the hospital as a result.

It’s a sweet gesture, but even that kindness leaves a bit of a bitter aftertaste when you think about one final knife to the gut of Road House. Dalton could have, and probably should have, left some of that money to Frankie. You can presume all you want that Stephen would share his newfound riches, and I wouldn’t argue with that character choice one bit. But we don’t see that happen, thus leaving a pretty big question in the air.

For all of the injuries suffered and one-liners dished out, Elwood Dalton is kind of a shit hero when Road House is said and done. That doesn’t make the movie any less fun, as I’d still be able to kick back with a cold one and be nice while watching this fun as hell interpretation of an MGM classic. But at the same time, this ending is still going to bug the hell out of me. So maybe Road House 2: Knox Knox is a better idea than one would initially suspect, as the next chapter could right all the wrongs left in play at the end.

Don’t let my picking apart the ending to Road House scare you away from the pulpy fun that awaits. The film is currently available for streaming on Amazon Prime, and if there’s justice in the world, it’ll get the repertory theatrical release it deserves. For now, you’ll just have to keep the rowdiness in your own living room.