When an actor has his movies amass a total global box office of over $2.5 billion, there are clearly numerous that struck a chord with audiences. As Bruce Willis returns to the screen in the sci-fi thrill-fest Looper, Movie Fanatic goes over the actor’s long history and we give you our Top 10 Bruce Willis Movies.
10. Planet Terror
The second in the Robert Rodriguez-Quentin Tarantino tandem that was the Grindhouse films, Planet Terror featured Willis as Lt. Muldoon. Both films are solid, but there is something about Rodriguez’s half that truly gets us going. Perhaps it’s the solid performance of the man who has now appeared in over 90 films, Bruce Willis!
9. Sin City
Frank Miller crafted a wonderful world with his Sin City and as usual, Willis rose to the occasion. The actor showed once again why he is willing to tackle any genre of film, as long as it’s a good story. Think fans are a little excited the Sin City sequel is moving forward?
Willis’ second go-around with director M. Night Shyamalan in Unbreakable gave us the most original of superhero origins stories. His performance is subtle, yet has a brewing power one can see a hero emerge from -- especially in Willis’ scenes opposite the aider-antagonist played by Samuel L. Jackson.
7. 12 Monkeys
One of the most original of stories, both in plot and look, 12 Monkeys had Willis portraying a man from the future who is sent back to the past to discover what started a global epidemic. Brad Pitt may have gotten the Golden Globe for Best Supporting actor for the Terry Gilliam film, but it was a crime that the film’s lead didn’t get any award love. Is 12 Monkeys one of your favorite time travel tales? Vote in our Best Time Travel Movie Poll.
6. Moonrise Kingdom
Willis is turning 2012 into a banner year (more on that to come on this list!). Hooking up with director Wes Anderson proved a match made in heaven. The story of a tween and his like-minded girlfriend as they escape to the wilds of a New England island in the 1960s is made all the better with the layered and nuanced performance by Willis.
The actor has played over a dozen cops, but few with the authoritative restraint as his character in Moonrise Kingdom.
5. The Sixth Sense
In The Sixth Sense, everyone remembers Haley Joel Osment and his “I see dead people.” Even more remember the twist at the end of the film that has to be one of the medium’s best of all time. That is because of Willis’ turn as a haunted counselor with a secret that only Osment’s character sees -- and also the brilliant first-time work by Shyamalan, who clearly found a muse in Willis. Perhaps they will reunite again one day soon? One can hope…
4. The Fifth Element
Bruce Willis heads to the future, stars for the first time in a film by visionary Luc Besson, and scores a smash hit with The Fifth Element. The 1997 film was not only eye-popping and possessed an elaborate storyline that ran the gamut, The Fifth Element also showed why Willis is so superior over so many of his contemporaries at the reluctant hero role.
3. Die Hard
Speaking of reluctant hero, the film that put Willis on the cinematic map is Die Hard. The heroics of Willis’ John McClane first enthralled audiences in 1988 and we still crave him onscreen as the latest chapter, A Good Day to Die Hard, is swinging into production.
Willis’ latest is among his greatest. Looper is spellbinding and possesses a script just about as good as the film that sits at number one. That is largely why it is so thrilling -- writer-director Rian Johnson has taken the promise he showed on Brick and taken his filmmaking to a whole new level of awesomeness. Willis is the future incarnation of Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Looper. His job is to assassinate mob messes from the future.
One day, as Gordon Levitt waits armed to kill, Willis appears. The two create sizzling chemistry as the same person, but each knows the other cannot live if they are to remain alive in this world. Their cat-and-mouse game is as brilliant as we’ve seen this year.
1. Pulp Fiction
Willis’ turn as Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction is one of his best and it came in his best film. Quentin Tarantino created a character for Willis who is the boxer that still believes he has some good fight left in him. When Ving Rhames’ mobster deems it time for Burch to take a fall, Willis does the opposite.
Their storyline is just one that interweaves astoundingly well with a top notch ensemble to craft one of the best films of all time… period.
Honorary mentions: The Whole Nine Yards, In Country, Hudson Hawk (watch it again, it’s fun!) and Death Becomes Her.