The 7 Best Bruce Willis Movies

Bruce Willis is one of those actors who’s hard to hate. He may not see an Oscar in his life, but he’s earned the respect of any legitimate action fan. He’s had his fair share of bad movies, but even in those he’s the best part. He can be a bad ass and likable at the same time. Look at Die Hard with a Vengeance. The Fifth Element. Hell, even Surrogates. Bad ass, but likable.

Bruce Willis is one of many big names starring in the ensemble action-comedy Red 2, which opens this Friday. This seems like the perfect time to reflect back on the venerable actor’s career and highlight his best movies.

7. Looper

Bruce Willis squares off against a Bruce Willis-esque Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Looper, a time bending action-thriller that not only exceeds its lofty expectations, but serves up one of the best sci-fi stories of the last decade. The movie is almost the most complex action-thriller since Inception and one of the most engaging since The Matrix.

While the movie focuses more on Young Joe than Old Joe, Bruce Willis still gets his chance to kick some serious ass. But a more interesting question is this: is he the bad guy? Or the good guy?

6. Sin City

Bruce Willis is only part of a larger cast in this graphic novel adaptation, but he kicks ass as the heart-attack-waiting-to-happen cop in Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City, who will stop at nothing to protect and save hot-as-Hell stripper Jessica Alba. Who could blame him?

He’s often overlooked for Mickey Rourke who, admittedly, stole the show, but Willis plays one of his most hardened characters to a more-than-satisfying degree. Rodriguez wants him back for the Sin City sequel, even though he died in the last movie. That’s how bad ass he is.

5. Die Hard with a Vengeance

Some people don’t like Die Hard with a Vengeance, but those people are silly. The third Die Hard mixes up the formula a bit while still delivering where needed, namely having John McClane (Bruce Willis) get beaten to a bloody pulp before putting an end to the bad guys with one of his many one-liners. In Die Hard with a Vengeance, the deliciously evil Jeremy Irons runs McClane through the gamut, from wearing an “I hate niggers” sign in Harlem to taking a metal chain to the face on a cargo ship full of explosives.

4. Pulp Fiction

John Travolta and Die Hard with a Vengeance co-star Samuel L. Jackson tend to get the glory for this Quentin Tarantino classic, but Bruce Willis gets to take part in one of the most disturbing and off-the-wall moments of Pulp Fiction. In the movie, Willis stars as a disgraced boxer who is on the run from the cops and a local mobster (Ving Rhames) after refusing to fix a fight. He literally runs into Rhames on the street, but the two wind up on the same side when a couple of racist storekeepers go Deliverance on their asses – well, for Willis only figuratively, Rhames not so much.

3. Unbreakable

Back when M. Night Shyalaman was still making good movies he was making Unbreakable, his follow-up to The Sixth Sense. Some people discount the movie, but Unbreakable is an effectively awesome take on super heroes and comic books without being overt about it. Bruce Willis plays the central character, a man who discovers that he in fact is invincible. Though he [purposely] mumbles his way through the movie, he slowly develops into a dark superhero and proceeds to kill some nasty rapist-murderer who has slaughtered a suburban family.

2. The Sixth Sense

Speaking of M. Night Shyalaman, let’s not forget that Bruce Willis was the co-star of this Oscar-nominated thriller. He may not be as much of a bad ass here as he is in many of his other movies, but the movie itself is pretty bad ass. People who dismiss The Sixth Sense as anything less than amazing bring sadness to African children.

1. Die Hard

“Yippee-ki-yay, motherf**ker.”

How could I not put Die Hard first? Bruce Willis is and always will be John McClane, even when Hollywood inevitably reboots the franchise with a younger actor (you know it’s going to happen). The movie is all around goodness, the perfect Christmas movie, the ultimate example of 80’s action movie, full of cheesy characters, over-the-top bad guys and lots and lots of explosions. But Die Hard still holds up incredibly well to this day, and, of course, lets Bruce Willis get the bloody pulp beaten out of him.

By Erik Samdahl
Related categories: Action Movies, Featured, Movies, Top 10 Movie Lists
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  • Holly Genero

    Swap Unbreakable for the “Last Boyscout” and it would be perfecto! Cannot forget Armageddon, I kinda liked that flick.

  • Luke Baggins

    Glad to see Unbreakable given some justice. It’s one of my favorite movies, but I think it was released ahead of its time.

  • @Holly. Thanks for the comment – some people really like The Last Boyscout… I’m not one of them though (a copy of the movie has been sitting on my desk for two months though, waiting for me to re-watch it).

    @Luke – Unbreakable is one of my favorite movies, too.

  • Dawna

    Come on, how could you leave out Hudson Hawk? That is one of my all time favorites. I cant believe how many people havent seen it or hated it, its one of the funniest ever!

  • That’s why I kept things to five – don’t want to accomodate every one of his movies. Hudson Hawk – can’t complain, but top five? No.

  • Clockwise

    Hudson Hawk?? You two have got to be kidding me? Seriously?
    Hudson Hawk i think may have been voted one of the worst movies ever made along with Battlefield Earth…I really hope you guys are kidding.

    I for one really liked 12 Monkeys. It was a well made movie. But i would say your list is rather accurate. I couldnt replace any of your movies so i would have to say your five and 12 Monkeys are probably the best acting roles hes ever had. He hasnt really been in that many good movies. More bad than good i think. I really liked Armageddon but it wasnt one of his best acting roles.

    Hey Eric me and my friends watched The Human Centipede a couple of days go…wow! Cant wait to read your review for it. We highly recommend it. LOL

    Keep up the great work!

  • steve

    Armageddon rocks, one of the best movies ever. i don’t get why so many people diss it!

  • jeff

    I’d add Whole Nine Yards and 12 Monkeys to this list.

  • eriksamdahl

    Both good picks. I just watched 12 Monkeys again the other day… it’s been a while since I’ve seen The Whole Nine Yards.

  • eriksamdahl

    I like Armageddon, too!