Diminished to the point of having to sadly end an already long career, Bruce Willis has largely appeared in more than a hundred films. An inevitably checkered filmography, of which we will retain above all this small selection.
Suffering from aphasia, a language disorder ranging from difficulty finding words to a total loss of the ability to express oneself, a pathology caused by brain damage caused in the majority of cases by a stroke, Bruce Willis chose to bow out by announcing the end of his career.
A long-term career, moreover, which began at the dawn of the 1980s. And inevitably sawtooth, although interspersed with films that have become authentic classics of cinema. We will therefore ignore the industrial quantity of films that Willis has shot in recent years (no less than 6 films in post-production for 2022!).
In this respect, moreover, and in the light of the announcement of its withdrawal, an article in the Los Angeles Times has just shed a harsh, sad and even sordid light: his entourage seemed to push him in recent years to shoot more and more, despite his state of health. And he himself sometimes didn’t even seem to know what he was doing on film sets, asking: “what am I doing here ?” It’s sad…
The Die Hards
Let’s immediately put an end to a false suspense: we will only retain the first trilogy, which we compile in a single entry. From his first muscular and now cult intervention in the tower of Nakatomi Plaza to his attempts to thwart the diabolical plans of Simon Gruber in a 3rd part of anthology by veteran and seasoned John McTiernan, Bruce Willis embodied with cynicism and an absolutely brilliant nonchalance the indefatigable inspector John McClane. Eternal stone in the shoes of terrorists, always in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A character all the more brilliant as he was at the antipodes of his fellow Actioners of the time: not the bodybuilded physique of a Stallone or a Schwarzenegger; nor a master in martial arts like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris, or broken in new technologies and other gadgets like James Bond. John McClane is perhaps more in tune with the cool attitude of a Steve McQueen and the moral integrity of a Detective Harry. And that’s why we love him, in addition to throwing punchlines of which he alone has the secret.
A day in hell, a Die Hard in apotheosis…
Uma Thurman, Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Harvey Keitel, Ving Rhames and so… Bruce Willis. Right in the middle of its all-star cast, Quentin Tarantino’s second feature film (crowned with a Palme d’Or at Cannes) reserves a place of choice for the famous interpreter of John McClane. In the shoes of boxer Butch Coolidge, relentlessly hunted by the men of the formidable Marsellus Wallace, Bruce Willis blends perfectly into the Tarantinesque landscape of the film and instantly manages to appropriate its codes while remaining resolutely himself.
He thus offers himself several unforgettable sequences, and in particular one of the most legendary scenes of Pulp Fiction: the one where Butch, before going to lend a hand to Marsellus, carefully chooses his weapon. After considering a hammer, a baseball bat and a chainsaw, he finally settles on a magnificent katana.
Sixth Sense and Unbreakable
At the end of the 90s, Bruce Willis was already a confirmed comedian and even a real Hollywood star, but he had not yet revealed all his cards. A very young director of Indian origin, almost unknown, is about to offer him to add a new string to his bow, by offering him one of the most outstanding roles of his entire career. That of Doctor Malcolm Crowe, a child psychologist seeking to help a little boy who sees the dead.
A true global phenomenon when it was released in 1999, Sixth Sense quickly rose to the rank of cult film and also allowed Bruce Willis to venture into the field of horror, a register in which we were not used to seeing him. to see. The following year, with the brilliant Unbreakable, the actor renewed his collaboration with Shyamalan, and transformed his essay by delivering a new performance of excellence, in the role of the enigmatic David Dunn.
The fifth Element
In the 23rd century, in a strange universe where all hope of survival is impossible without the discovery of the Fifth Element, an unusual hero confronts Evil to save humanity. In 1997, Luc Besson, surrounded by Moebius and Jean-Claude Mézières, signed a cool and colorful pop SF film, which mixed colorful characters, memorable punchlines, baroque costumes and visual mastery. 25 years after its triumphant release in 1997, we can still see that the visual effects have not aged too much; a challenge, as CGIs are not really known for aging well.
The visual aspect aside, its other strength was precisely in its casting. Milla Jovovich, divine creature, Eve of modern times, at once beautiful, ingenuous and wild, at the center of the story. At his side, we find Bruce Willis, a gruff taxi driver dyed in platinum blond, endowed with a humor that is always tongue-in-cheek largely borrowed from the character who made him famous. Chris Tucker as a very queer radio presenter with a panther jumpsuit and fake Prince tunes, and Ian Holm in a priest’s costume. Each character, by its singularity, represented one of the five elements of the film. And, of course, let’s not forget to mention Gary Oldman, unforgettable as the villainous Zorg.
The fifth Element became a cult film for an entire generation. It is hardly surprising to see it right after Léon in the ranking of the best Luc Besson films according to your ratings.
The army of the twelve monkeys
2035. Almost the entire population of the world has been decimated by a mysterious disease. The survivors, refugees underground, put all their hopes in a journey through time to prevent disaster. Appointed for this mission, James Cole, prisoner sentenced to life, landed in 1996. There, he met Jeffrey Goines, rebellious and deranged son of a cruel scientist, as well as Dr. Kathryn Railly, psychiatrist, who will try to elucidate with him the mysterious signals launched by a secret association known as the Army of the 12 monkeys…
The Army of the Twelve Monkeys -itself inspired by Chris Marker’s La Jetée- has become over the years a work dear to the hearts of SF fans, in particular because of its futuristic aesthetics, its audacious narrative construction based on of time travel, and certain themes that at times recalled the masterpiece Brazil. Gilliam’s film was also carried by a very solid cast: Bruce Willis who found there one of his best roles in the guise of James Cole, a taciturn and disturbing character; while Brad Pitt collected a Golden Globe saluting his performance in the guise of the moody and disturbed Jeffrey Goines, but also a citation for the Oscar for best supporting role.
Below is the trailer for the film…
Brilliant adaptation on the big screen of the series of comic books The Hard good-bye, drawn and written in 2001 by Frank Miller and bringing together the stories Sin city, The Big fat kill and That yellow bastard, Robert Rodriguez – rightly supported by Miller and even Tarantino- hit hard with his film, released in 2005.
Ultra faithful to the original material, Sin City was carried high by a formidable cast embodying more real-than-life freaks: Mickey Rourke, the late Brittany Murphy, Elijah Wood, Benicio del Toro, Rosario Dawnson, Clive Owen… And of course Bruce Willis, perfect in this luxury setting, in which he plays John Hartigan, a tough but fragile heart who has sworn to protect Nancy, a stripper who has fallen in love with him.
It is also in the memorable sequence below, where Hartigan enters the bar, that Nancy recognizes him, years after having lost his trace…