Monday, May 24, 2010

Fan-Boy Icon #14

Well, we began this whole Fan-Boy Icon thing with the big man, Kurt Russell, so it is fitting that we hit the next best thing, Bruce Willis.

Willis has had some ups and downs in his career. Die Hard, Moonlighting, Death Becomes Her, The Last Boy Scout... Then Hudson Hawk, Look Who's Talking, Blind Date (all arguably good films, though). Willis was one of the big three of the 1980s along with Swarzeneggar and Stallone, and easily the most talented of those three. Willis plays the great tough guy, but was never the huge steroid fueled musclehead his two superiors were. Also, Willis has a natural talent for humour which makes his characters more appealing, much like Russell. Compare Hudson Hawk (whether you like it or not) to Kindergarten Cop or Rhinestone. Willis is easily the better actor. Also, because he was not the severe juicer like his compatriots he was more Batman than the other two, and therefore more likable. You never got the feeling that Willis could throw a car, but could give and take punishment based on will rather than a blood stream full of human growth hormone.

Willis' big return to stardom was hugely the creation of two directors: Quentin Tarantino and M. Night Shyamalan. Pulp Fiction (1994) and The Sixth Sense (1999) brought him to the fore in ways that Stallone and Swarzeneggar could only dream of. These were roles that demanded acting chops rather than gun wielding insanity. Am I saying Willis is the greatest actor of our generation? No, but compared to most action stars he is a serious thespian. Since his return, Willis seems to be firmly in the Tarantino/Rodriguez stable. With them he has appeared in Pulp Fiction, Four Rooms, Sin City, and Planet Terror.

These days I would say I have two favorite Bruce Willis films. The Last Boy Scout (1991) was a film about a down-and-out private investigator (Willis) and a down-and-out football star (Damon Wayans). The two join forces to find Wayan's girlfriend's killer. It is an odd couple film, as the two don't like each other, but it is far from goofy. Willis' Joe Hallenbeck is a shit talking, fearless, wise-ass. He's a tough guy, to be sure, but uses his smarts to catch opponents off guard. Second is M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable (2000) which has Willis as a security guard with unknown super powers. He is, virtually, indestructible and has a sense for evil. It is an interesting film and more dramatic than action-packed. Both of these are well worth watching.


Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

Willis is so great because he is the everyman. The guy who steps up when the situation calls for it regardless of the danger to himself. The barefoot/glass thing in 'Die Hard' was the most brillant way to humanize the hero that I have ever seen in a movie.

And he is a great actor. 'Unbreakable' is one of my very favorite movies because of the one scene where he slips the morning paper to his son and without words lets the kid know that he was right about his dad being invincible all along. That is a master acting class in just a few mouthed words and looks.

I still can watch 'Armageddon' over and over again just like I enjoy '12 Monkeys'

He also toally rocked 'Die Hard 4'. Even after all these years he can still do the stunts and still thrill us.

Great choice. He is one of the greats.

Favorite Quote - "Make your plans with GOD, A.J.!!!"

Darius Whiteplume said...

I had never seen 12 Monkeys, then I was watching some Terry Gilliam movies and sought it out. It was really good. He was still the kind of stoic, semi-confused tough guy he usually is, but that was needed to play against Pitt. I liked it a lot.

I agree on Unbreakable. I love the scene where he's feeling out the crowd and get the image of the guy with the gun, and it turns out he's right. Very cool movie. If you have not seen The Last Boy Scout, check it out.

joe ackerman said...

Bruce. Is. King.

and the first Die Hard movie is the Best Action Movie Ever. that's Ever.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I'd agree that Die Hard is likely the best. Lots of smartness. I was reading a book recently where people were trapped in a high-rise and some guns were available, and kept saying "bust out a window and shoot at some cars. That'll get the cops to show." 2 and 3 were no slouches either.

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