In Hollywood, there are certain actors who have carved a niche for themselves in some movie genres and the subject of the piece is one of those actors. Bruce Willis movies have graced our screens for decades now and the work he has done has earned him the status of a cult hero in the action film genre. Willis has been acting for more than four decades and in that time he has appeared in more than seventy films, but the work he has done in Hollywood is not limited to just acting as he is also a producer.
This actor/film producer was born Walter Bruce Willis in Germany to an American father and a German mother on the 19th of March, 1955. The family moved to the United States when he was two, and it was while they were in America that his three siblings were born. As a child in high school, Bruce Willis had a stutter which he overcame by joining the drama club. For his university degree, Bruce Willis attended the Montclair State University in New Jersey where he studied Drama, however, three years into his course, he dropped out of Montclair and moved to New York. He was in New York for three years before he moved to California in 1980 to pursue a professional career in acting but it wasn’t until 1985 that he got his first big role that introduced the world to the talent he had.
For an actor who has been the recipient of a number of awards and has starred in a number of movies, picking the movies with his best performances will pose as a difficulty. Nonetheless, this is a list of fifteen of the finest Bruce Willis movies you need to see.
Finest Bruce Willis Movies You Should Watch
Die Hard Series (1988 – 2013)
The role of John McClane is a fixture in pop culture and it is made up of five films, all of which are adapted from the novel, Nothing Lasts Forever. The films have made a combined $1.4 billion which is largely dependent on the portrayal of McClane by Willis. The first Die Hard film was released in 1988 and what it did for Bruce Willis’ career was what established him as an action hero. Any true Bruce Willis fan is conversant with all five films in the Die Hard series and watching the films is a great way to understand the tone of Bruce Willis career.
The Sixth Sense (1999)
This Bruce Willis movie has one of the most iconic plot twists in the history of film. This is the first collaboration between Bruce Willis and the writer/director M. Night Shyamalan. In this film, Willis is a psychologist who teaches a young boy that could see the dead how to manage his gift. By the end of the teaching process, Willis discovers that he had been already dead the whole time. Willis agreed to take on the role of Malcolm Crowe and in the process saved Shyamalan’s career. The Sixth Sense has been praised for how subtly it fringes the edges of the horror genre and for the brilliance of Willis’ acting. It was the second highest-grossing film of 1999 and the highest-grossing horror film for eighteen years.
12 Monkeys (2015 – 2018)
Bruce Willis is James Cole a prisoner who lives in 2035 but is sent back in time to 1996 to stop the spread of a deadly virus that has caused the annihilation of the human race. In the course of his journeys, he is sent to different times and encounters evidence that proves that the reason for his time travel is non-existent. The film ends with Cole’s death which is witnessed by the younger version of him. 12 Monkeys is based on a French short film, La Jetee. For his performance, Willis was nominated for some awards, none of which he won.
Nobody’s Fool (1994)
This film fits the genre of comedy which is a deviation from the usual performances of Bruce Willis and he plays a supporting character in this film. Regardless of these conditions, he is still able to deliver a noteworthy performance. Willis plays the role of Carl Roebuck who is constantly at loggerheads with Donald Sullivan played by Paul Newman. The antics of the duo set the comical tone that the film rides on.
The Fifth Element (1997)
This French 1997 science fiction film features the actor in the lead role as Korben Dallas, a taxi driver who helps rescue the world from an evil force that visits earth every 5000 years. Making the film cost $90 million and it was able to recover more than 100% of that because of the brilliant performances put on by each member of the ensemble cast, a cast that had Bruce Willis as its lead.
Lucky Number Slevin (2006)
Bruce Willis plays Mr. Goodkat, an assassin that takes on a child he was supposed to kill and trains him into an assassin who seeks out revenge for the massacre of his family when he was a child. Willis brings certain coolness and precision to his character that despite all the killing he had done, has was still capable of feeling and expressing empathy.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
In this 1994 film, Bruce Willis is graced with the opportunity to work with the immensely talented film director, Quentin Tarantino. He plays the role of Butch Coolidge, a boxer out of his prime. Pulp Fiction was made on a small budget of $8 million and it featured an ensemble cast who wanted Willis because of the way he looked. The actor risked his already failing career to play in the film and it paid off for him. Pulp Fiction has been described as the magnum opus of Tarantino’s career and rightfully so, for its brilliant writing and casting.
Moonrise Kingdom (2012)
This Bruce Willis movie features the actor as Captain Sharp, a man who takes in a delinquent as his foster child and in the process preserves the love between two children who have fought many odds to be together and explore the love they have for each other. Bruce Willis owes most of the award nominations that he has in film to Moonrise Kingdom, as it was nominated for an award in almost every award ceremony of the year it was released.
This is a film in two parts and in both parts, Willis is Frank Moses who is a former CIA operative. This character can be described as a metaphor for Willis’ career in the film industry. Frank Moses is a veteran CIA operative who had very active days in the CIA but now lived a very quiet and laid back life after retiring. It is a must-watch as the now older Bruce Willis displays talent in an action film just like he could when he was younger.
Although this film is an action film, it features Bruce Willis as a man with superpowers of immense strength. This is his second film with Shyamalan and it was a success with critics and fans alike. He is cast as the protagonist to the villainy character Mr. Glass who is played by Samuel L. Jackson. Willis reprised his role of David Dunn in the sequels – Split and Glass.
Another hallmark of Willis’s career is the work he has done in science fiction films. Looper is one of these films where action is merged with science fiction. Bruce Willis is a man called Joe who killed people as a young man and because of this someone from the past is out to kill him for his killings in the past.
Sin City (2005)
Sin City is a crime anthology film in six parts and of the six, only two are connected with each other – and these two are the part of the anthology that features Bruce Willis. Although based on a graphic novel, the film is able to convert the story on the pages of the book to film that has been praised repeatedly. In this film, Willis plays a character that is common in all his film and this type of character is one that acts out as the hero.
Death Becomes Her (1992)
This is yet another box office success in the actor’s repertoire of films. Bruce Willis is cast alongside Meryl Streep and Goldie Hawn who play rival socialites Madeline Ashton and Helen Sharp respectively. Willis plays Ernest Menville, a plastic surgeon who is thrown in a love triangle with the abovementioned women. Although reactions from critics were mixed, fans loved it and its special effects were considered groundbreaking for the year it was released.
Planet Terror (2007)
Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez co-wrote and co-directed this film that is made up of two different films. One part – Planet Terror – written and directed by Rodriguez and the other Death Proof, written by Tarantino. Bruce Willis had previously worked with both of them in the films Sin City and Pulp Fiction, and it influenced the decision to cast him. In this film, he plays the role of Lt. Muldoon in Planet Terror, which is the part of the film created by Robert Rodriguez. Despite its novelty and featuring the elements of action that are peculiar to the two writers, Grindhouse: Planet Terror was not successful at the box office which was shocking to critics as they expected it to do well at the box office.
The Whole Nine Yards (2000)
This Bruce Willis movie is another deviation from the norm for the actor who is cast to play an assassin in this dark comedy film. He is cast alongside Matthew Perry, Rosanna Arquette, and Natasha Henstridge. Some critics compared it to a sit-com that failed to land as many laughs as it initially set out to do. It was a hit at the box office and because of this, its sequel The Whole Ten Yards was released in 2004, four years after the first film – even though it was not as successful as the first.