While his career has become less than stellar in recent years, largely due to a focus on direct-to-video movies that require little effort, Bruce Willis was at one point a huge name in Hollywood. And, hey, remember when he starred in a video game called Apocalypse? He was supposed to be a sidekick character but the studio reworked it to use him as the protagonist, hoping it’d sell more copies. So there’s a fun recollection or discovery for you.
Here are the top 10 movies from the career of Bruce Willis.
While he did some acting before Die Hard – he was even the lead in a couple of things, Bruce Willis’ career didn’t really take off until he fought tooth and nail to survive in Nakatomi Plaza. In the film, Willis plays a police officer who winds up being the only one who can do anything to stop terrorists inside the building. It’s one of the best action movies ever and, if you haven’t seen it, you really need to get on that.
The franchise isn’t bad, overall, either. Here’s a ranking of the Die Hard movies.
The Fifth Element
Writer-director Luc Besson might not make another movie that matches the vision shown in The Fifth Element – try as he might with projects like Valerian. Its world is so wonderfully realized that you want to spend more time there than the movie permits. Its story, which is a “save the world” kind of deal, comes secondary. It’s fine, but it’s this world, the effects – both practical and computer-generated – and all of the details that have gone into it that draw us in.
Just ignore Chris Tucker.
Looper is a time travel movie with a pretty cool premise. It sees time travel used as a means of disposing bodies that have been murdered. You can’t look for bodies if they’ve been sent back to the past and killed then, I guess. But then the protagonist, someone who does those killings, has his future self sent back. What do you do?
That’s a pretty solid setup for a movie. And it mostly sticks to its time travel rules, which is something with which these movies often struggle. Willis co-stars with Joseph Gordon-Levitt, their back-and-forth is great, and what action we do get is pretty solid.
Moonrise Kingdom does a great job of capturing what it’s like to be 12-year-old children who run away into the woods to live there together forever. The film follows them for a decent amount of time, but it’s even more focused on the adults of the story, who spend their time looking for the kids. It takes place on an island, so there aren’t a ton of places they can go, but still: they’re missing children and that’s always scary.
It’s a very sweet story, it’s got a lot of humor, and Wes Anderson makes very visually dynamic movies, so it’s got that going for it, too.
In contrast to Moonrise Kingdom, Planet Terror is a schlocky B-movie that tries to emulate the aesthetics and perceived production values of grindhouse cinema from the ’70s. It’s a zombie movie with intentionally bad acting and effects, and even has a segment in the middle that’s been “melted” away. It’s a clever movie, it’s really funny, and its existence led to Machete – whose fake trailer was attached to it – which is also wonderful.
You’ve seen Pulp Fiction, right? I don’t know many people who haven’t seen it. It’s Quentin Tarantino’s second movie – and arguably his best. It’s an ensemble, non-linear crime movie. It effectively has three stories that sometimes cross over, all of which are incredibly entertaining.
Sin City is another ensemble movie with non-linear narratives that sometimes cross over. This one looks like a comic book. Seriously, when it was released there were no other movies that looked like it does, and even the couple of attempts to mimic its style have largely failed – I’m looking at you, The Spirit. It’s stunning, and the stories it tells are pretty engaging, too.
I like its sequel, but I understand that many do not. If you watch Sin City and want more, though, I urge you to check it out.
The Sixth Sense
The Sixth Sense has “THE BEST TWIST ENDING IN ALL OF CINEMA HISTORY,” which is, of course, nonsense. It’s good. Let’s not bring hyperbole into it. And you probably know it by now, anyway, even if you haven’t seen the movie. The rest of the movie … is okay. Look, I’m not its biggest fan, and I don’t think it holds up well after you know the twist. But as a single-viewing experience? Yeah, it works.
Tears of the Sun
Tears of the Sun is a war movie following some rebellious soldiers who, disobeying orders, decide to rescue some locals they were told to ignore. It kind of lulls you into thinking it’s a generic-feeling movie, and then there’s a scene midway through that’s filled with such tension and suspense that it dawns on you what a good time you’re having. And it’s always nice to see a soldier movie where the soldiers are labeled as heroes for doing something heroic, not just for existing.
Unbreakable was the follow-up to The Sixth Sense for M. Night Shyamalan, and he brought back Bruce Willis for the lead role. He plays a superhero who initially doesn’t know that he has powers, and then has to figure out what to do about that. It’s a character study more than anything else. And it’s really good. I personally put it ahead of The Sixth Sense in terms of Shyamalan movies, but that’s just me.