Today: July 12, 2024

Bruce Willis

As Looper hits our cinema screens on September 28th, Paula Hammond takes a look back at Bruce Willis’ long and successful career … But just how many of our top ten Bruce classics do you remember?

As Looper (Main Image) hits our cinema screens on September 28th, Paula Hammond takes
a look back at Bruce Willis’ long and successful career … But just how many of
our top ten Bruce classics do you remember?

Die Hard, 1988
It was the film that put the
post-Moonlighting Willis on the map as a bone fide action hero. Based on a
character created in the book Nothing Lasts Forever by Roderick Thorp,
Willis’ browbeaten New York City Detective, John
McClane, has since become a movie icon. Proving that one man – and a lot of
firepower – can make a difference.
The film has spawned three sequels: Die
Hard 2 (1990), Die Hard With A Vengeance (1995), Live Free Or Die Hard (2007)

and, next year, Willis returns to the franchise which made him a household name
with the much-anticipated A Good Day To
Die Hard (2013
). As McClane might say: “Yippee kai yay, motherfucker”.

Sin City, 2005
This lush noir takes its
imagery and storyline from Frank
Miller’s
hugely popular Sin City sequence of comics. By taking four tales
and weaving them together into a tapestry of tight little thrillers, Sin City
achieved what many comic fans thought was impossible. In one of his most
under-played roles, Willis plays Hartigan –
a good cop in a corrupt town – who takes
the law into his own hands to protect little Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba) from the clutches of Miller’s murderous infamous ‘yellow
bastard’. Rarely has a comic book movie been as faithfully or as stylishly
executed.


Sixth Sense, 1999
Although it was nominated for
six Academy Awards, Sixth Sense won none. Proof, if you ever needed it,
that genre movies get a raw deal when it comes to award ceremonies. However the
lack of gongs did nothing to prevent this superlative supernatural thriller
from earning a whopping $672,806,292 worldwide – making it Willis’ most
commercially successful film to date.
If you haven’t seen it, don’t be put off by the so called ‘surprise
ending’. It’s not the end which makes this a great film, but how we get there
and the subtle filmic clues which help us on our way.

Breakfast Of Champions, 1999
There’s a theory that Willis
only does commercial films so that he can use his name and fame to get smaller,
indie movies off the ground. Movies like Breakfast Of Champions. Based on Kurt
Vonnegut’s
surrealist sci-fi novel of
the same name, Breakfast Of Champions was blasted by the critics and reportedly
hated by Vonnegut. However, if you think that Willis only ever plays dumb
action heroes then think again. His turn as Dwayne Hoover – the suicidal and
delusional owner of a car dealership – is probably one of his best film
creations.

Twelve Monkeys, 1995
Inspired by Chris Marker‘s 1962 short film La Jetée, and starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe and Brad Pitt, this quirky sci-fi flick could well be director Terry Gilliam’s movie best to date. But this isn’t just a neat little
time travel film. It also tackles the big stuff – the nature of reality, fate,
and the redemptive power of love.
It’s also possibly the only time travel movie which actually makes
sense. Another small
budget movie and another Willis gem.

Unbreakable,
2000

Written, produced and
directed by M. Night
Shyamalan
, this
classy tale uses many of the same tricks that thrilled and surprised us in
Shylaman’s supernatural chiller Sixth
Sense (1999).
The film stars Bruce Willis as a Philadelphia security guard, David Dunn, who slowly discovers that he is
invincible. Or is he? As in Sixth Sense nothing in a Shyamalan film is ever
what it seems. And, once again, Willis carries the movie with a believably
downbeat portrayal of a man grappling with the unbelievable.

Pulp Fiction, 1994
It was the film which secured
director Quentin
Tarantino
’s
reputation and made John Travolta cool again. Bruce Willis once more proves that he’s
happy to play his age, relishing the role of past-it prizefighter Butch Coolidge who gets into deep doo doo when he
wins the fight he’s been paid to throw. However, forget the gimps, the guns,
the drugs, the dancing and the Royale with
Cheese speech. It’s
Christopher Walken’s Vietnam War story which makes this Tarantino’s
blackest of black comedies.

Surrogates, 2009
Based on a graphic novel by Robert Venditti and Brett Weldel,
Surrogates returned Willis to the world of sci-fi. This time, a world where people
are so immersed in virtual reality that they live their whole lives through
idolized surrogate versions of themselves. That is, until the surrogates begin
to mysteriously die. This is a slick sci-fi thriller come cop caper that cocks
a satirical snoop at the world and the way that we relate to one another.

Hudson Hawk, 1991
Hudson Hawk is silly. It’s
surreal. And it’s vintage, Moonlighting-era Willis. Michael Lehmann directed this post-modernist nod to the screwball
comedies of yesteryear in which Willis plays a reformed cat burglar who wants
to go straight – if only others would let him. With wonderfully camp
performances from Richard E. Grant Sandra
Bernhard
this is
one film that, if you’re a Willis fan, you’ll either love or hate.

The Last Boy Scout, 1991
A role that Willis was
arguably destined to play. The
Last Boy Scout is from Shane Black, the man behind Lethal Weapon, and allows
the dry, sullen Willis to play a hardboiled private eye who doesn’t give a flip
about anyone, or so he likes to pretend. A combination of Black’s script and Willis’ delivery make his
Joe Hallenbeck one of the most wonderfully gruff but lovable characters in
Willis’ locker. Throw in some
brilliantly directed action from the late, great Tony Scott and even a fun bit
of buddy banter between Willis and Damon Wayans, of all people, and you have
yourself a delightfully ‘90s fuelled action movie that is horrible underrated.

Paula Hammond - Features Editor

Paula Hammond is a full-time, freelance journalist. She regularly writes for more magazines than is healthy and has over 25 books to her credit. When not frantically scribbling, she can be found indulging her passions for film, theatre, cult TV, sci-fi and real ale. If you should spot her in the pub, after five rounds rapid, she’ll be the one in the corner mumbling Ghostbusters quotes and waiting for the transporter to lock on to her signal… Email: writerpaula@icloud.com

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