The 10 Best Bruce Willis Movies

5. Looper (2012, Rian Johnson)

Looper movie

Bruce Willis co-stars in his second time travel feature in Rian Johnson’s 2012 science-fiction masterpiece Looper. The film is set in Kansas in the year 2044. Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a “looper,” a specialized hitman who kills targets from the future who are sent back in time by criminal organizations. These organizations need the loopers because of how difficult it is to properly dispose of a body in the future.

Ultimately, every looper will “close his loop,” and eliminate his future self. Joe’s fellow looper, Seth (Paul Dano) explains how he let his future self get away after he informed him about a tyrannical figure in the future known only as “The Rainmaker,” who is closing all the loops. The future and present Seth’s are both found and killed. Soon afterwards, Joe’s older self (Willis) is sent back to be killed. He knocks Joe unconscious and tells him to leave town.

The two meet at a diner, where Old Joe explains that his wife (Xu Qing), who he met in Shanghai, was killed by The Rainmaker’s men. Old Joe discovered the coordinates to the birthplace of The Rainmaker in the present. His goal is to kill the child who will grow up to become The Rainmaker, and save his wife in the future.

Looper is undeniably one of Bruce Willis’s best films of the 2010s so far, if not his absolute best. It is a nice change of pace to see him take on a more villainous role than what he is often known for. The film itself is a mind-boggling ride which can be looked at as an instant classic. It is easily one of the best science-fiction films of the decade.

Willis completely immerses himself into the role of a man who has lost everything, and is willing take an innocent life to get it all back. He is ideally cast as a shadowy reflection of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character. Gordon-Levitt was given prosthetics to make him look more like Willis. The end result is a believable rivalry between the same character.


4. Sin City (2005, Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller)

Sin City

Directors Robert Rodriguez’s and Frank Miller’s 2005 adaptation of Miller’s own neo-noir comics from the 1990s is a star-studded visual treat full of one of the best ensemble casts in recent memory. It is easily the single most accurate comic book adaptation ever, to the point where lines, scenes, and frames from the graphic novels are directly translated to film.

In the movie’s segment entitled “That Yellow Bastard” (adapted from the fourth book in the series), Bruce Willis plays seasoned detective John Hartigan. He is a stoic figure who saves young Nancy Callahan from the clutches of the serial rapist, Roark Jr. (Nick Stahl), the son of the powerful, untouchable Senator Roark (Powers Boothe).

After castrating Roark Jr., Hartigan is falsely convicted of raping Nancy and spends the next eight years in solitary confinement. He is eventually released and makes it his duty to protect a now 19-year-old Nancy (Jessica Alba) from a mysterious deformed man with yellow skin who is after her.

The casting of Bruce Willis as the noble John Hartigan is one of the best in the entire film, and probably the absolute best aside from Mickey Rourke as the fan-favorite, Marv. He looks virtually identical to his comic book counterpart, complete with his X-shaped scar and five o’clock shadow. Willis embodies all of the fundamental virtues of the character- a man with almost nothing left to lose who will stop at nothing to defend the woman he loves.

Willis holds his own among Mickey Rourke and Clive Owen, the leading men in the other two segments. The character of John Hartigan is a stark reminder of why Bruce Willis has the reputation of being a badass on film.


3. Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino)

Pulp Fiction

Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece is often considered to be one of the best films of the 1990s. It is also credited as one of the most prominent players in the rise of the independent film into the mainstream throughout the mid-90s. Sharply written, darkly comical, and occasionally very bizarre, Pulp Fiction excels on all levels. It boasts one of the best ensemble casts ever, and is seen as the film which revived the careers of John Travolta and Bruce Willis.

In the segment of the film entitled “The Gold Watch,” Willis plays a prizefighter named Butch Coolidge, who made a deal with crime lord Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames) to take a dive and intentionally lose a boxing match to his rival, Floyd Wilson. Butch takes Marsellus’s money and rips him off by killing Floyd in the ring. Now marked for death, Butch makes plans to skip town with his wife, Fabienne (Maria de Medeiros).

Like Sin City, Pulp Fiction is divided into three segments which are shown in non-chronological order. It is a classic full of twists and turns. The climax of “The Gold Watch” takes what is perhaps the film’s wildest turn. It is undoubtedly one of Bruce Willis’s best performances to date, and is one of the most significant moments of his career.


2. 12 Monkeys (1995, Terry Gilliam)

12 monkeys

Bruce Willis has proven his strength as a leading man time and time again, and Terry Gilliam’s 1995 time travel masterpiece serves as testament to his ability to carry a film. The film is set in a post-apocalyptic 2027, three decades after a deadly virus killed 5 billion people and made the surface of the earth unlivable, thereby forcing humanity to live underground.

Willis plays James Cole, a convict who is promised a full pardon if he goes back in time to track the path of the virus in the hopes of discovering a way for humans to live above ground once again. After accidentally arriving in 1990 instead of 1996, Cole is introduced to Dr. Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe).

Cole is then sent to a mental hospital, where he meets Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt in a crazed, Oscar-nominated performance), who helps him attempt an escape. Cole is caught but is pulled out of the hospital by his superiors from the future, who give him another chance and send him back to 1996.

12 Monkeys is one of the best science-fiction films of the 1990s. It is prophetic in its vision and features phenomenal acting from Willis, Stowe, and Pitt.

Willis’s powerful performance in particular is what the film’s critical success can be most directly attributed to. He expertly portrays a man without a real place in any time period. He is a convict in the year 2027, and, after spending a considerable amount of time in the late 20th Century, yearns to stay there. Willis flawlessly displays the wide range of emotions needed for the character. It is a landmark performance and inarguably one of his finest.


1. Die Hard (1988, John McTiernan)

best action movies

Was there ever any doubt in your mind that John McTiernan’s action masterpiece, widely regarded as one of the best action movies ever, would hold our number one spot? It is an adrenaline-fueled macho classic which ranks among the greatest films in the genre.

The plot of Die Hard is relatively simple, as it should be in an 80s action film. In his signature role, Bruce Willis plays John McClane, an NYPD detective who arrives in Los Angeles for a party at the Nakatomi Plaza, and encounters his estranged wife, Holly (Bonnie Bedelia), an employee of Joe Takagi (James Shigeta). The party is crashed by a group of terrorists led by the sinister Hans Gruber (Alan Rickman). McClane escapes and wages a one-man assault on Gruber’s men.

Originally proposed as a sequel to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1985 camp action classic, Commando, Die Hard evolved into something greater, and made Bruce Willis into an overnight icon of masculinity. It was his breakout role and to date, still remains his most memorable. It is a film which is chock full of great one-liners (“Now I know what a TV dinner feels like,” “Yippee ki-yay motherf*cker!”).

Alan Rickman portrays what is indisputably the best villain Willis has ever gone up against. There have been four sequels so far, the most recent of which was panned by critics and fans alike. As decent as some of them were, none of them have ever come close to the greatness of the original.