As a shoutout to fellow blogger and best bud Keith, this week’s E-Top is all about Bruno. Bruce has had a great career, continuing to reinvent himself while still staying consistent (a hard nut to crack).

Growing up, one of my favorite shows was “Moonlighting”. It was just such a departure from the standard private-eye dramedies of the time. It was way too hip for the room, and its hipness was due to Bruce Willis. He always made that show feel more like a movie than a TV series. It was only logical that he make the jump to the big screen, leaving chronic complainer and eternal nag Cybil Shepard in the dust.

Anyway, without further ado, I give you Bruce’s best.

10. Die Hard: With a Vengeance (1995).

Following the rather lackluster sequel to the original Die Hard masterpiece, the third installment got the franchise back on track. This one features John MacClane back on his home turf of NYC, trying to bring down Simon Gruber, brother of Hans (killed by John in Die Hard). What really makes this film work though is the interaction of Willis and Samuel L. Jackson, in one of his first “co-starring” vehicles following his “Pulp Fiction” success. Good buddy flick.

9. The Jackal (1997).

It kills me not being able to rank this film higher, but I have to remind myself that Bruce is only a supporting character here. The Jackal is really a Richard Gere movie. Excellent film, either way. Willis stars in the title role of The Jackal, a brutal assassin contracted by the Russian Mafia to exact revenge on the American government. Along with Gere and Willis, great performances by Sidney Poitier and Diane Venora. Even Jack Black has a great role as a 2-bit criminal. Willis shines here by being quite understated, a vicious killer always in control and always a step ahead of everyone else.

8. 16 Blocks (2006).

A simple but riveting story about an aging, about-to-retire cop Jack Mosely(Willis) assigned to escort a motormouth witness (brilliantly played by Mos Def) 16 blocks to the courthouse to testify. Unfortunately, some of Jack’s colleagues can’t afford for that to happen.

7. The Siege (1998).

Another film where Bruce supports the action, this time with Denzel Washington. “The Siege” is an all-too-real story about terrorist cells operating in New York City. When FBI Special Agent “Hub” Hubbard (Washington) can’t seem to stop the bombers, the military is called in to institute martial law. They are led by General William Devereaux (Willis), a man who sees the military as a last resort but doesn’t hesitate to go full force when called upon. “The Siege” is a great commentary on wondering just how far we’re willing to go with our freedom to be safe. Excellent cast including Annette Bening and Tony Shalhoub. This was the first DVD I ever owned. At the time, 3 years before 9/11, I thought it just a cool action movie. I had no idea how prophetic it was.

6. 12 Monkeys (1995).

In this futuristic thriller, Willis plays James Cole, a convict sent back in time to gather info on a man made virus that wiped most of the population. It’s a mindbender of a film, full of quirks. Most quirky is Brad Pitt, who as mental patient Jeffery Goines, seems to either know too much or be completely bonkers. Great flick on the political and moral consequences of time travel, as well as degrees of sanity, nature of reality.

5. Sin City (2005).

This mindblowing film is a graphic novel, written by Frank Miller, brought to life by Guillermo del Toro. It tells the story of three characters (Hartigan-Bruce Willis, Marv-Mickey Rourke, and Dwight Macarthy-Clive Owen) caught up in the violence of Basin City. While three separate stories, they are linked together in horrifying detail. Willis’ Hartigan is a rugged cop, giving up everything to rescue the little girl and woman he loves.

4. Pulp Fiction (1994).

A truly classic, groundbreaking film by Quentin Tarentino. One of the first to feature intertwining stories that leaped back and forth timewise to tell a story. This is another flick where Bruce Willis is not the star, but rather lends support as Butch Coolidge, a run-down boxer working for the Mob. When asked to throw a fight, he refuses, leading to certain…ah…complications. Bruce seems to have a knack for finding genre benchmark films, and Pulp sure is one of them.

3. The Sixth Sense (1999).

In his first of two M. Night Shymalan movies, Willis stars as Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist attempting to help a Cole Sears (Haley Joel Osment) overcome some frightening visions. Problem is, Malcolm is struggling with some demons of his own, as Cole is his first case back after being assaulted by an unstable former patient. With one of cinema’s all-time great plot twists, this film is one of two that Willis will forever be remembered.

2. Unbreakable (2000).

In his other M. Night vehicle, Bruce Willis does his best acting in “Unbreakable”, in my opinion. In it he plays David Dunn, a college security guard who just happens to be the only survivor of a horrific train wreck. Not only does he survive, he walks away without a scratch. Samuel L. Jackson co-stars as Elijah Price, an invalid who realizes the value of Dunn’s “power”. It’s a great allegory on superheroes vs. real-life heroes. Elijah’s speech about the nature and value of comic books is priceless. An OUTSTANDING film, and for me, the best M. Night movie.

1. Die Hard (1988).

Bruce’s best movie is “Die Hard”, no question. Not only is it one of the great action movies ever, it redefined the genre by having a hero who didn’t have all the answers. A hero that screws up. A hero that forces the issue rather than let plot dictate his actions. He IS the plot. Willis stars as John McClane, a NY cop visiting his estranged wife and family in LA for Christmas. While attending his wife’s company business party, the building is taken over by terrorists, led by Alan Rickman. Rickman plays Hans to perfection, injecting the villain with a great sense of humor and intelligence. The interplay between the two, combined with fantastic action, and Bruce’s wonderfully profane wit allow this film to hold up, even 20 years later (has it been 20 years since Die Hard??? Good Lord…)

Well, there you have it…this week’s E-Top. Would love to hear your thoughts on Bruce’s best. Talk to ya soon!

Advertisements