I am old enough to remember when Bruce Willis was the sexy, slapstick comedy half of ABC Network’s Moonlighting. He was The Beast to Cybill Shepherd’s Beauty. The goofball, David Addison, to her uptight Maddie Hayes. Their “Taming of the Shrew” episode left a huge impression on me. Bruce Willis was considered very handsome at the time. And no, I do not know what was wrong with us back in the mid-’80s that this look was hot stuff.
When Moonlighting ended in 1989, Bruce’s career rocketed into the stratosphere with the Die Hard and Look Who’s Talking franchises. Not even Hudson Hawk could stop his rising star. Truly the early ’90s box office belonged to Willis, culminating in 1994’s Pulp Fiction. Or maybe 1995’s 12 Monkeys. No, wait. 1997’s The Fifth Element … Wait … Hmmm. You know what? Bruce Willis hasn’t taken a year off since 1983. That is 38 years of being on our screens in some way or another. THIRTY-EIGHT. Look how proud he is.
Willis has nine films with acting credits listed on imbd.com for 2021 alone, with five more in post-production for 2022. That’s a lot of movies! I feel like we’ve been in the downward spiral of diminishing returns with Bruce Willis since, at least, 2014. Although I will accept arguments that 2013’s sequel, Red 2, was not great. This new one,Deadlock, looks terrible though. I think he’s the baddie in this? It’s hard to tell. Maybe he’s the good guy and the town he wants to flood is full of corrupt cops?
I want to make a comment about “look how far he’s fallen.” But really it’s been more of a slow mosey. If you look at the careers of some of his better-known contemporaries, they’re all kind of in the same boat. I’m talking about these guys:
I will say that I think Bruce is doing better than Stallone. Perhaps he could take a page out of Arnold’s playbook. I’m not suggesting he get into politics. Ugh, God. We have enough rich white dudes running the country, thankyouverymuch. I’m talking about taking some time off. Allow our hearts to grow fonder with your absence, Bruce. Remember how excited folks were for Arnold to return in Terminator: Dark Fate? OK, maybe “excited” is a strong word. But Bruce Willis has a long trail of Direct-to-Video/VOD/Streaming projects in his wake that sully the legacy of John McClane. Yes, that is a reference to Striking Distance.
This guy? This guy was AWESOME. Die Hard is the greatest Christmas movie of all time. (Yes it is, shut up.) We didn’t even mind when Bruce insisted on playing harmonica and referring to himself as Bruno, which he still does occasionally.
I don’t know if it’s because he has so many kids to support (three adult daughters with Demi Moore and two little ones with Emma Heming), or if he owes money to bookies? The government? Did he sell his soul to Haim Saban? Maybe he’s one of those dudes who’s afraid to retire because he thinks he might die if he spends too much time on the golf course. I really think Bruce needs to be a bit more judicious in his choice of roles. He doesn’t have to say yes to EVERYTHING. This is not a competition with Nic Cage. BTW, if it is, Nic Cage is definitely winning because Pig. Also, the only thing Nic Cage’s roles tend to have in common (besides extreme violence) is the opportunity they afford him to showcase his more unhinged personality traits. Bruce Willis’ characters all seem to be some flimsy variation on the beleaguered, “I’m getting too old for this sh*t,” authority figure with a sentimental heart buried under a gruff exterior. That guy is boring and predictable. I guarantee we are all able to recite lines of dialogue from Deadlock without even seeing it because his characters tend to say the same things over and over again, “Yippie Kai Yay” notwithstanding.
In short, Bruce Willis, more of this:
And less of whatever the hell you’re doing with Saban Films.