Opinion: Bruce Willis Doesn’t Care About Acting – Time To Go, Bruce


Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few years, it would have become increasingly apparent that Bruce Willis – star of classic films like Die Hard, The Fifth Element and more recently cameoing alongside Arnie in the Expendable movies – seems to have just flat-out given up. Watching his performances in his more recent films, like GI Joe: Retaliation, A Good Day To Die Hard, and Looper, Willis seems to be less interested in his characters and performance, than he is with simply showing up on set and collecting his paycheck.

And I’m reasonably sure I know which film was the one that flipped the switch. More on this in a moment.

Die Hard - the epitome of cool....
Die Hard – the epitome of cool….

Back in his Moonlighting days, Willis was trying to build a career, and things obviously took a turn for the better after 1989’s Die Hard came out – the film has since become an action classic, and redefined the genre to the point where any action film is compared to it…. you know: “this film is like Die Hard on a [bus/train/plane/boat/roman orgy]” We’ve all heard (and probably used) that expression; Die Hard remains one of the definitive films of the 80’s, and remains Bruce’s most iconic performance. Post-Die Hard, Willis’ career took off, ranging from voicing infants in Look Who’s Talking (showing his penchant for comedy) to drama (Bonfire Of The Vanities) to action/comedy (Hudson Hawk) and high fantasy (Death Becomes Her). Not every film he appeared in was a success (Hudson Hawk remains his most famous bomb) but Willis’ career remained on an upward trajectory thanks to canny films choices that kept him in the public eye – 1991’s The Last Boy Scout, followed a few years later by Striking Distance (which wasn’t great, but still successful) and Tarantino’s sophomore effort, Pulp Fiction in 1994, ensured he remained firmly in high rotation throughout movie houses around the globe.

Even cooler - because sunnies need to be worn in the bath....
Even cooler – because sunnies need to be worn in the bath….

Looking over his filmography, one comes to realize that Willis isn’t really pigeonholed into a specific type of movie genre; he’s known largely as an action star, but a large swathe of his output has been as varied as you could imagine. Willis’ appearances in The Fifth Element (a kooky sci-fi outing from Luc Besson), The Sixth Sense (one of the highest grossing films of 1999, and a film which re-invented the “twist” ending) and Michael Bay’s Armageddon (as well as Edward Zwick’s politically charged The Siege) are as different films as it’s possible to get, featuring Willis in roles so different from each other there’s no way he could be typecast.


The early 2000’s saw a bit of a run of lesser Willis films, between Shyamalan’s critically acclaimed but commercially limp Unbreakable, The Whole Nine Yards, Harts War and wTears Of The Sun, there were more blips on the radar than outright Willis classics. 2005 saw him appear in Robert Rodriguez’ Sin City, a blazing sci-fi/drama/grindhouse outing which garnered both critical and commercial praise. Willis continued to work almost constantly, putting out nearly 2 films per year, before he hit the ground with the science fiction actioner Surrogates. Honestly, Surrogates was one of the worst films of Willis’ post-millennial career. It was also the film in which he appeared to have had enough. The film was mediocre, but it was Willis’ apparently lack of energy within that film that gave me pause.

Suave and cool.... Sin City.
Suave and cool…. Sin City.

Since Surrogates, Willis seems to have simply given up: he’s played the same blank-faced, nearly-bored character in each of the films he’s done since – Watch him in The Expendables, and Expendables 2, RED, Looper, A Good Day To Die Hard and GI Joe: Retaliation, and tell me Willis even gives a shit he’s in those films. It’s blatantly obvious that he doesn’t care about these movies, and that he’s simply there, going through the motions.

The way we'd LIKE to remember him....
The way we’d LIKE to remember him….

Gone are the days of Die Hard’s “Yippee Ki Yay” enthusiasm, or Fifth Element’s crazy, shouty insanity – hell, watch him in 12 Monkeys and compare that to Expendables 2, and you’ll see how far Willis has fallen off the Hollywood wagon. So what’s happened to Bruce to make him suddenly seem to give up? Recent interviews by Willis, one of which he was – frankly – rude and unappreciative to the interviewer, and another in which he showed up wearing a frickin’ bath robe, make one think that some kind of massive practical joke is going on. But it isn’t, that’s what’s most troubling. So what’s the answer?

The way we WILL remember him....
The way we WILL remember him….

Frankly, I think he’s sick of it. He’s sick of the action films these days doing the same kind of things, and I think he’s even more sick of having to perform the same kinds of roles in each outing. Which makes you wonder why he’s even still doing it? I mean, if you or I were sick of doing something, we’d change gears and try something else, right? He’s done enough to ensure his status as a legend of the screen is assured, and he’s given us more pop-culture characters than any single human has a right to (perhaps except Mel Blanc) and there’s little chance he really needs the money, so why doesn’t he just stop making films he obviously has no interest in, and retire to an island in the Bahamas somewhere.

If you were Bruce Willis, and you’d given as much to cinema as he has, and you felt like it was all tired and boring, wouldn’t you?


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9 thoughts on “Opinion: Bruce Willis Doesn’t Care About Acting – Time To Go, Bruce

  1. I agree he's not what he was. I think in terms of 'A Good Day to Die Hard', though, it had a lot to do with poor script-writing and producers not knowing when to let a good franchise die a natural death – I almost don't blame Willis for not putting his heart in it like Die Hard 1-3.

    1. Thanks Angela – the Die Hard franchise should have stopped at 3, making it the near perfect trilogy. 4 was okay (but not awesome) 5 is simply a train wreck of monumental proportions.

      Willis needs to give it away, lest he ruin his otherwise solid legacy.

  2. Well, I don't know if you have seen Sylvester Stallone's tweets recently, but even he agrees with you as he tweeted that Bruce Willis was out of Expendables 3 because he was "greedy and lazy". Willis used to be a reason to see a movie, now I really am not excited about it anymore.
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    1. The impetus for this post came partially from Willis' ugly departure from Expendables 3 (and other things) – I guess if even your friends are giving you crap about being in it for the money, you know perhaps it's time to call it a day. I have to say, when I see Willis' face on a film poster these days, I know to avoid it completely, or at least wait until I can watch it at minimal cost.

  3. If he's sick of it he shouldn't be cashing checks. Sure, a lot of us hate going to work but we do it to get paid, but when a name like Willis has such staying/pulling power, you need to be a bit more responsible. It's a shame that from the past couple of years and moving forward, if I see Willis' name attached to anything, I avoid it as much as possible. Remember when he was a huge draw with just showing up? Now I can't stand it and don't want anything to do with him.

    Rest in peace, big guy. You need to go retire.
    My recent post The Trailer Park: ‘Kill Your Darlings’

    1. I'm feeling the same way, Nick. Willis' drawing power ain't what it used to be – audiences can smell when they're being taken for a ride, and with Bruce phoning it in these days, I think the backlash is starting. The numbers for RED2 aren't that great, and Die Hard 5 was a flop, so it won't be too long before he "retires" completely from the industry.

      A shame, but if you can't be bothered putting in the effort, and still expect people to watch your stuff, then you're cooked.

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