The Top Ten Bruce Willis Movies

BT-Top-10-May-2012With “RED 2” coming out this weekend, I thought it would be a good time to do a Top Ten featuring the movies of Bruce Willis.

Willis has been churning out films for decades now, and he’s wound up starring in some truly great movies over that time, from movies that have cracked the AFI 100 to movies that are pop culture phenomenons.

CollageOf course, he’s had his share of stinkers, too, but that’s a discussion for another time. Today we’ll focus on his best films!

Click through to see which ones made the cut!

10) “Armageddon” – 1998

armageddon_ver4As much as it pains me to say it, “Armageddon” is one of Willis’ most popular films, and one of the films most strongly identified with him. Excluding it from the list simply didn’t seem right. So, in lieu of a handful of flawed action films (including the Die Hard sequels), the super cult “Fifth Element”, and his little seen dramatic work, Michael Bay’s opus about a drill crew trained to be astronauts in order to save the earth from an asteroid takes the tenth spot. Hear it in your heads now folks: “I could stay awake… just to hear you breathing… “ LOL.

9) “RED” – 2010

redTeaming up with John Malkovich, Hellen Mirren and Morgan Freeman, Willis plays a retired (but still extremely dangerous) ex CIA agent named Frank Moses. When the government tries to punch his ticket, Moses fights back, which includes reuniting the old gang, and I do mean the “old” gang. Elderly action comedy ensues. Well received enough to merit this weekend’s forthcoming sequel, “RED” blends humor and action into an amusing, eminently watchable package.

8) “Moonrise Kingdom” – 2012

moonrise_kingdomWes Anderson’s quirky, quiet film about puppy love features Willis as a mild-mannered cop who’s in love with a married woman. Completely against the tough guys we’re used to seeing him play. Anderson creates a strange island of odd characters where the kids seem to have a better handle on things than the adults… a setting perfect for his idiosyncratic stylings. A restrained, quiet turn by Willis and another great outing from everyone’s favorite offbeat director give “Kingdom” enough juice to crack the list.

7) “Sin City” – 2005

sin_city_ver9In this adaptation of Frank Miller’s pulpy, violent graphic novel, Willis plays Hartigan, a burnt out police officer with a bum heart who only wants to protect a young girl. Bleak, brutal and cynical, “Sin City” is a hyper noir tale of the dark underbelly’s dark underbelly. It’s a film that doesn’t shy away from darkness, depravity and disgusting behavior. Shot in black and white with CGI backdrops, “Sin City” replicates the source graphic novel in a way that few comic book adaptations ever have… it truly felt as though the comic came to life on the big screen.

6) “Looper” – 2012

looperWillis returns to sci-fi in this 2012 Rian Johnson film about time travel, mob hit men, and telekinesis. It’s as wild and wonderful as it sounds, plus Willis has the benefit of Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing across from him as a younger version of himself. Tense, exciting and thought-provoking, “Looper” raises moral questions to accompany its time bending narrative. Willis’ older version of Joe is someone you’re not sure whether you want to root for or against, and his performance supports that perfectly. It’s alternately sympathetic and menacing.

5) “12 Monkeys” – 1995

twelve_monkeys_ver2Terry Gilliam’s trippy tale of time travel and terrorism. Willis shines as ___ a man sent back to the past from a dystopian future in order to stop a devastating, world changing virus from being released. Will he stop the plague? Or will his presence unwittingly aid the process? Can he keep his sanity intact, or is he already insane? Co-starring a young, manic Brad Pitt, “12 Monkeys” combines the weird, wonderful sensibilities of Gilliam with the mind bending paradoxes inherent in time travel movies.

4) “Unbreakable” – 2000

unbreakableWillis’ second collaboration with M Night Shyamalan proved just as fruitful as his first. With “Unbreakable”, Willis authored a new superhero character not based on an existing property, but with an entirely new mythos including an origin, super powers, a vulnerability, and a nemesis. Willis’ character struggles to come to grips with his abilities, and to maintain the respect of his son. Once again Shyamalan dupes his audience with an incredible twist as well. “Unbreakable” was an excellent, confident film that doesn’t get enough credit in pop culture for just how excellent it is.

3) “The Sixth Sense” – 1999

sixth_sense_ver3One of Willis’ best roles came in M. Night Shyamalan’s debut film. Playing off of one of the greatest child acting performances of all time (Haley Joel Osment would receive an Academy Award nom at the age of 10), Willis turned in one of his most memorable performances ever as the psychologist who tries to help young Cole Sear. This film also gave us an incredible catchphrase (“I see dead people”) and one of the greatest “twists” in movie history. It ranks 89th on the AFI 100 Years… 100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition.

2) “Pulp Fiction” – 1994

pulp_fictionComing in at number two simply because Willis isn’t the main character for the entire film, “Pulp Fiction” was a revolutionary film, and has since become a classic. Willis makes the most out of his Tarantino created character. Butch is a boxer who refuses to take a dive for the mob, and instead cleans up betting against the fix. He’s forced to abandon his escape plans, however, when he has to head back into danger to retrieve a very special watch. Things only get crazier from there in this chapter of what’s inarguably one of the greatest movies ever made.

1) “Die Hard” – 1988

Die HardUndeniably Willis’ signature movie. If you were to ask the question, “What one movie do you identify with Bruce Willis?” there really is only one right answer, and that’s this one. Willis plays John McClane, a smart ass cop who plays fly in the ointment to a gang of international thieves. “Die Hard” brought the action movie to new levels when it was released in the late 80s, and it launched Willis into the upper stratosphere of movie stars. 25 years and four sequels later, it still stands tall as an action classic. It’s truly a great movie, and one that’s become synonymous with Bruce Willis!


Well, there you have it folks. The top ten Bruce Willis films!

What do you think? Any I missed? Which ones are too high or too low? I’m prepared for “The Fifth Element” contingent, go ahead let me have it!

Let us hear it!


94 thoughts on “The Top Ten Bruce Willis Movies

  1. No real arguments from me on this one, Fogs. I’d probably also sling Fifth Element on there though and I wasn’t so much a fan of Looper to be honest, although it still deserves it’s place on the list. I am a big fan of Die Hard With a Vengeance though.

    • Yeah, DHwV got some serious consideration from me. I almost put it in over Armageddon, but that movie has a place here I think.

      Can’t get with the Fifth Element, though. I watched it this week just to see if it belonged, and I found it more painful than I remembered. 😦

  2. WHAT????? No Hudson Hawk. How dare you. Wouldn’t you like to swing on a star. Carry moonbeams home in a jar. Or be better off then you are…. Come on sing with me Fogs.

  3. Excellent list Fogs, it’s hard not putting Die Hard in the number one spot. Pulp Fiction and Sixth Sense need to fight it out for the number 2 spot for me. RED however was a real bust. I actually counted how many times Bruce Willis changed into a different jacket throughout this movie. For a man with very little time and on the run it was hard to believe it was an astounding 13 times. lol. So I would trade out RED for Fifth Element.

    Great stuff man.

    • Thanks Chris. I can see swapping RED out, I don’t have all that much attachment to it, but I wont be putting “The Fifth Element” in in its place 😯 Nooooo… I just rewatched it this weekend to be sure, and it was every bit as awful as I remember. 😦 Sorry, not a fan of that one.

      Trust me, I knew going in that having that one on the list would make the feedback go smoother. Gotta stick by my guns though!

  4. Great list! Seen almost every movie on this list (still need to see Moonrise Kingdom and Looper) and loved them all. I just love Bruce Willis, so much awesome. 🙂

  5. It’s a solid list Fogs! Nicely done.
    I for sure thought number 1 was going to be Cop Out though… LOL! That’s a choice that would have given you some serious backlash.

    • LOL. I should do that for an April Fools joke next year. Do a Top Ten and just put one %#$&@ stinker on there somewhere and watch everyone go off. LOL 😀 That would be funny. Good times, Smash, good times.

  6. Can’t argue against any of these. Fogs Well, I am partial to his work in ‘Hostage’, ‘Tears of the Sun’, and his against type supporting role in ‘Nobody’s Fool’. Great list.

    • Yeah, couldn’t see my way to including any of those though. There are plenty of decent movies he’s been in that didn’t make the cut… I also like the first couple of Die Hard sequels, 16 Blocks, etc. 😉

  7. Yeah, chalk me up as a Fifth Element partisan as well, I’d switch out Armageddon for it. Just on the basis that Fifth Element is a good movie and Armageddon is terrible.

    • K2? I owed you a rewatch on that movie, and I did it this weekend.

      I hated it more than I remembered, and I remember hating it. Everything is goofy but not funny, you have Mila Jovovich babbling, Gary Oldman acting goofy, those stupid aliens, a strange mythology that really… never makes sense. Why is the expanding fireball destroying things? Ugh, I don’t even want to get into it. And THEN… 3/4 of the way through, Chris Tucker is given the unmitigated green light to get RIGHT in your face 🙄

      Sorry, bub. You and I are WORLDS apart on that flick.

      Armageddon sucks, but it’s very popular. If you ask 100 people to name the first ten films they can think of starring Bruce Willis, I guarantee it’s mentioned by 90% of them.

      • Can’t disagree with any of your points. I just like all the goofy stuff that you hate here.

        Don’t much care that Armageddon is more widely known, it’s just a terrible, terrible movie.

  8. Probably the right ten, maybe the order could be changed. Since Sin City is so popular among geeks I suppose it deserves to be here, but I’d rather watch Look Who’s Talking than subject myself to Sin City again. Great looking but reprehensibley stupid. Think that will get people talking?

    • LOL. I bet having Look Whos Talking on the list would have gotten some conversation going! LOL 😯

      I like Sin City. It’s Frank Miller doing his uber dark and dirty noir. I’m looking forward to the second one, too. 😀

  9. Whether or not the main character, I’d still have to give top spot to Pulp Fiction, man. It is one of the greatest movies ever made. A few others for me would be 12 Monkeys at #2, and Sin City at #3. I haven’t given much thought to a top ten but The Fifth Element would probably make the cut.

    By the way, I’ve not seen many posts from you lately. Do you have bloggers burnout like I do right now? 🙂

    • If the list were sorted under a different criteria, Mark, Pulp Fiction beats Die Hard in just about every way imaginable. But if we’re talking “Bruce Willis Movies”, Die Hard is identified with him SO strongly that there’s no way that that couldn’t be #1.

      Sorry, I think the Fifth Element is terrible. You can smell the French comedy on it. LOL Echk.

      Anyways, burnout? No. Not entirely. Only to the extent that I don’t have the hunger to commit every second of my spare time in order to keep FMR fed daily. I got a new job that’s not as blogging friendly, and I cant bring myself to commit all my free time every night like I used to at one point.

      Looking into some things to try to steady the ship so to speak, but for the near future, the going is going to be a little rough.

  10. Great list. I love a bit of Bruce. Only difference I’d make is that, for me, Unbreakable is by far Syamalan’s best film. And I’d shift Moonrise Kingdom up a couple of places I’m a big Wes fan.

  11. Its always tough to make a list of “name of actor here movies”. Are you rating the movies themselves, or that actor’s performance in it? What if they are only supporting characters? Moonrise Kingdom for example I would not call a “Bruce Willas” movie like I would Die Hard. Or does anything go? Would you have to say that Apocalypse Now is one of the best Harrison Ford movies?

    But however you cut it, Armageddon should not be here.

    • Nah, that one had to be on there. Like I mentioned above, If you ask 100 people to name the first ten films they can think of starring Bruce Willis, I guarantee it’s mentioned by 90% of them.

      As to the methodology, I put the names of a given actors film in a small bag and shake. LOL Naw, jk, it has to be a movie identified with an actor, thus A. Now would not make Harrison Ford’s list, but then a variety of factors would go into the ranking. Performance, popularity, how strongly the movie is identified with the Actor, etc.

      I dunno. There’s no rules to these things, you know?

  12. No love for Last Man Standing?

    jk. But seriously, we can never be friends again until you apologize for the enormous dis to Fifth Element, and pretty much every other movie ever, for placing them behind Armageddon. GAH!

      • While I whole heartedly disagree with your categorization of Fifth Element, It doesn’t matter in the least. Armageddon is TERRIBLE in every possible way for a movie to be terrible. There is nothing whatsoever to recommend it. Even the people who were in it have disowned it. It’s offensively bad, and just because many people can name it, doesn’t mean that very many of them like it. Pop recognition does not equal popular acceptance. I would go out on a limb here and say that more people hate Armageddon than like it, or even can tolerate it. It is nearly universally abhorred by conscious people. Fifth Element has more admirers than Armageddon. Hell, Last Man Standing probably has more fans than Armageddon. The large steaming pile of excrement I left floating in my terlit half an hour ago probably has more fans, in the sewers, than Armageddon. You know the old saying about getting poked in the eye with a sharp stick? BETTER THAN ARMAGEDDON!

        But seriously… EVERY FILM EVER IS BETTER THAN ARMAGEDDON. Ice Castles? A better film. Plan 9? A much better film. Manos the Hand of fate? Oscar worthy in comparison. I’D RATHER WATCH BATTLEFIELD EARTH WEARING THE RIG FROM CLOCKWORK ORANGE!

        Or something.


        Oh, and I LOVE Fifth Element. 😀

  13. Good list. Surprised you had Unbreakable so high but all in all hard to argue any of that 🙂 I actually haven’t seen Moonrise Kingdom, I’ll have to give that a look.

  14. Whelp, I’d bring up The Fifth Element, but you seem well aware of your error in leaving it off the list here, lol. 😉

    Otherwise, pretty good list!

    • No “Error” involved, buddy. I’d rather fend off 20+ Fifth Element should be on here than imply that I have any respect for that movie.

      I just rewatched it prior to this list to be sure… I hate the movie.

    • The only time I considered that was when I was thinking about copping out just to not hear all the Fifth Element BS.

      That movie is terrible. So is Armageddon, but people actually like that one. LOL 😀

Join in the discussion!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s