Willis has undoubtedly had a highly decorated Hollywood career. He has a Golden Globe Award to his name and his filmography includes over 70 films, out of which many are action flicks. However, Willis’ reputation as an “action star” hasn’t stopped him from testing out other genres such as science fiction and comedy among others. Out of all the incredible and different projects that Willis has been a part of, here are the 15 best Bruce Willis movies of all time:
15. Die Hard 2 (1990)
Prepare yourself for hearing about the Die Hard franchise more than one time in this list.
Although the sequel to the high-octane action film Die Hard wasn’t as incredible as the first one, it was quite a fun action movie regardless. The film’s plot is inspired by 58 minutes (Walter Wager’s novel). In this feature, John McClane must deal with the terrorists holding an airport hostage while a plane (with McClane’s wife inside) is circling overhead and has limited time before it runs out of fuel and crashes down. The action sequences in the movie are top-notch and the element of the thrill comes in great doses.
14. 16 Blocks (2006)
Richard Donner’s final film as a director featured Bruce Willis in a pivotal role. 16 Blocks revolve around the character of Bruce Willis’ character Det. Jack Mosley, an alcoholic cop who must bring a witness to a courthouse from the police custody, located 16 blocks away.
As expected, the escorting process is filled with hurdles that make for cool action-packed moments. The most interesting thing about the film is that all activities in it transpire according to the real-time narrative. The film might not be an instant classic, but it is surely a good popcorn flick that can be thoroughly enjoyed on a weekend night.
13. Expendables 2 (2012)
Story and character progression are key parts required for a film to succeed. Sometimes, however, it is just best to sit back, relax, and enjoy what’s going on the screen. The Expendables franchise falls in the latter category and, over the course of three films, has brought together dozens of action stars of the past and present on the big screen.
Although Willis had an extended cameo in Expendables 2, his role during the climax was highly entertaining and important. If not anything else, seeing the Terminator, John Rambo, and John McClane in the same scene would surely give you goosebumps.
12. The Fifth Element (1997)
In addition to starring in commercially successful action films, Willis has never stopped himself from testing how other genres would play out for him. Signing up for 1997’s science fiction film The Fifth Element turned out to be a good decision for Willis after all.
In the movie, Willis portrays the character of a cab driver who joins forces with a young woman to retrieve four mystical stones to save the planet Earth from a cosmic villain. The film is set in the 23rd century. Although the initial reviews for the film were mixed, it achieved the status of a cult-classic as years passed by.
11. Live Free or Die Hard (2007)
Very few people expected a good Die Hard film in the 2000s. Luckily, the fourth installment in the franchise, Live Free or Die Hard proved all the naysayers wrong. The 2007 action film follows John McClane enlisting the help of a young hacker to stop a highly skilled cyber-criminal who has hacked into various commercial and government sites.
In addition to the amazing action sequences and thrilling twists, the film also does a good job in portraying Willis as a family man who faces issues that any normal family person does, such as having a hard time getting along with a college-going kid. All in, the film should definitely be on your Top Bruce Willis Films list.
10. 12 Monkeys (1995)
Working in a neo-noir science fiction film is quite risky as the genre is not that over with the moviegoers. When Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt joined forces in the 1995 film 12 Monkeys, the results were incredibly amazing. The film earned critics’ approval as well as did good business at the box office.
The film follows the journey of James Cole (portrayed by Willis) who travels back in time to retrieve details about a plague that would eventually annihilate a major chunk of the human population. Time Magazine’s Richard Corliss called the film “Jumanji for Adults” and that can only be taken in a positive manner.
9. Sin City (2005)
Another Neo-noir entry in the list. 2005’s crime anthology film Sin City is a must-see. As the term anthology suggests, the film revolves around various multiple plots featuring different characters involved in some sort of violent activity in Basin City. Willis’ role, in general, is that of an aging detective who must save a young woman from a disfigured serial killer.
The film was highly praised by the critics, received several accolades, and fared well at the box office as well. The dark setting and picturization received special appreciation. If you haven’t watched this film yet, it should be the first one on your watch-list.
8. Look Who’s Talking (1989)
Although Bruce Willis has a tremendous screen presence and makes sure to steal the spotlight every time he is in front of the camera, he can deliver a strong performance without even appearing much in a film. If you are thinking how is that possible, watch the 1989 rom-com flick Look Who’s Talking in which Bruce Willis leaves the audience in splits by just becoming the voice of a toddler.
The film about what goes on in a baby’s mind is highly entertaining and has aged incredibly well. There is no doubt that little Mikey’s feelings couldn’t have been expressed any better if he was voiced by anyone other than Bruce Willis.
7. Unbreakable (2000)
This superhero movie might be the most different one of its kind that you will ever see. The story revolves around the character of Bruce Willis who, after surviving a fatal train crash, discovers that he has never been injured or fallen sick in his life and thus realizes that he possesses superhuman capabilities.
He then encounters Samuel L. Jackson’s character, who is a handicapped owner of a comic-book store. The rest of the movie unfolds in a highly intriguing way and M. Night Shyamalan’s direction just helps in making things better. The movie was a success and even spawned a franchise with two more installments added. Do go out of your way to watch Unbreakable.
6. Armageddon (1998)
A Director/Actor combination of Michael Bay/Bruce Willis is something that you never knew you needed. The 1998 Sci-fi Disaster film is about a group of deep core drillers who are recruited by NASA to save the planet by stopping a massive Asteroid about to collide with Earth.
The film also stars Ben Affleck, Billy Bob Thornton, and Liv Tyler. Like other Michael Bay films, Armageddon wasn’t received well by the critics but fared well at the box office. It is definitely an enjoyable summer flick and the cast did quite a decent job with the character assigned to them.
5. Looper (2012)
If 12 Monkey’s success led the concerned people to think that featuring Willis in another film based on time travel would be a good idea, then they were… absolutely right! Willis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Emily Blunt starred in the 2012 sci-fi action film about criminal syndicates from the future sending their victims back in time in order to get them killed by “present-day” contracted killers.
Looper’s plot is far from a generic science fiction flick and this, coupled with impressive performances led the film towards success.
4. Red (2010)
It has been nearly 9 years since Red or “Retired, Extremely Dangerous” was released. The action-comedy flick revolves around the character of Frank Moses, a retired black-ops CIA agent who is forced to recruit his old team in order to take down the assassins who tried to kill him one fine night.
The film also stars John Malkovich, Karl Urban, Morgan Freeman, and Mary-Louise Parker as Moses’ love interest. The film was loosely based on the comic-book series of the same name. The film’s fresh plot and excellent yet quirky portrayal of retired agents were two of the many reasons why Red turned out to be so enjoyable.
3. Pulp Fiction (1994)
No amount of praise can justify how great of a film Pulp Fiction is. Quentin Tarantino’s 1994 masterpiece will always stand out among other brilliant films. The film has an ensemble cast including but not limited to John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Bruce Willis, and Uma Thurman.
The plot focuses on multiple crime tales in the city of Los Angeles and how these tales eventually connect with each other. From the direction to the performances and structuring, Pulp Fiction just couldn’t do anything wrong. The film was a giant success in the box office and received several accolades including an Academy Award for the Best Original Screenplay.
2. The Sixth Sense (1999)
Quite frankly, nobody expected The Sixth Sense to turn out to be a blockbuster. M. Night Shyamalan’s supernatural horror film took everyone by surprise. The film’s shocking ending sequence still gives us chills to this day. Well, we are not going to spoil much for you so you can enjoy it as much as we did.
The film follows the story of Child Psychologist Malcolm Crowe who attempts to help a young boy named Cole Sear who is able to communicate with the dead. Although expectations were low, the film smashed box office records and became the highest-grossing horror film and remained so until 2017.
1. Die Hard (1988)
Chances are that you already saw this one coming. How can we make a list of 15 of the best Bruce Willis films and not include the movie which kicked off the most successful franchise of Willis’ career? Die Hard set a benchmark for action movies. The film has all the ingredients required for an action film to succeed i.e. a Badass Protagonist, Intriguing plot, Cool Action Sequences, and Sarcastic One-liners.
The plot revolves around the character of John McClane (portrayed by Willis) who is an off-duty NYCPD Officer trapped in a Los Angeles skyscraper during a heist and how he manages to save the day. John McClane became a household name shortly after the film’s release. It’s quite amazing that many people still revisit Die Hard when they are in the mood of watching an entertaining action movie.
How did you find this list? Have any other Bruce Willis movies in mind that should have made the list? Do let us know in the comments section.