I’ve sung Bruce Willis’ praises for years. In fact, some might say that I’m the world’s biggest Bruce Willis fan. It’s no coincidence that our last names sound the same. Hardly a day goes by where I don’t rewatch some of his work in the likes of “Friends” and “Unbearable.”
So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that he has more than six movies on Netflix and at least three you haven’t heard of! Whoa!
Despite Bruce’s enduring perfection, some of his movies are better than others. So here’s my guide and ranking for which lesser-known Bruce Willis movies are worth streaming, in case your default answer isn’t “all of them” like it is for me.
1. ‘Fire with Fire’
Cast: Transformers Model, Bruce Willis, Defenders Nurse, Mean Dinosaur Trainer, Vitamin Water, Dr. Nip/Doom
It’s the classic fairy tale: Fergie’s Husband handsomely witnesses double murder. Fergie’s Husband handsomely enters witness protection program and moves to New Orleans, best known for protecting witnesses and filmmaker incentives. Fergie’s Husband handsomely falls for Luke Cage’s girlfriend. Witness protection fails. And then it’s on.
In a quest for revenge, he handsomely turns into Bryan Mills. Naturally, he handsomely gets to use his firefighting skills towards the end. Bruce Willis isn’t in it enough.
Rank for Bruce Willis fans: Last
Rank for Josh Duhamel fans: 1
Rank for Prodigy fans: 1
Cast: Frank Luntz, Bruce Willis, at least seven other actors who were in the movie “Marauders,” that MMA girl (no, the other one)
It’s the classic fairy tale: Bruce Willis is an agent (I want to say sports?) who gets captured when he tries to obtain some government hacking device. His son, a real estate agent like his father, tries to help the mission to retrieve his father. He’s told he can’t because he’s “too close” and his judgment will be clouded and probably “you’re letting your feelings get in the way of your job!”
But Bruce Willis Jr. doesn’t take his father’s abduction sitting down. He does what every red-blooded American whose father got abducted while trying to get a government hacking device would do: He goes to New Jersey. Lo and behold, everything is not as it seems (isn’t that the case with every extraction?). Willis features more than he did in “Fire with Fire,” by a good three minutes and 7-8 lines.
Rank for Bruce Willis fans: 3
Rank for fans of the movie “Marauders”: 2 (behind “Marauders”)
3. ‘Perfect Stranger’
Cast: Bruce Willis, Catwoman, Sneaky Scientologist
I bet you expected me to make some jokes about how it’s a gritty reboot of the classic Miller-Boyett sitcom! Maybe I list all those actors as the cast and then act confused that it doesn’t seem to follow the original very much? Well, that’s what I did originally!
The story starts out following a noble journalist who cares only about the truth. The truth in this instance is the classic fairy tale: a secretly-gay Republican politician who pushes anti-gay policies. From there it moves very quickly and it’s about 15 minutes before we even see an image of Bruce. Bruce is a felonious philanderer, and Monster Boobs tries to ensnare him using online chats. Phoebe’s Nephew is a journalist hacker person helping her. He uses words like “mainframe,” so you know he’s good. Oh, it’s still on? Turns out maybe Bruce isn’t the bad guy!
Rank for Bruce Willis fans: 2
Rank for The Net fans: 4
4. ‘The Prince’
Cast: Cruise Control, two actors who were also in “Fire with Fire,” this guy with awesome hair, a guy actually named Rain, John Cusack, Bruce Willis
It’s the classic fairy tale: Dad realizes his college daughter is in trouble and goes to find her using his 20-year-old Ford Explorer that’s in remarkably good condition. So he goes to Mobile’s best impression of New Orleans. He probably could have flown, but why do that when you can ride on a cloud?
While he’s in New Mobile, people keep asking if he’s back and he really doesn’t have an answer. Eventually he starts thinking he’s back. If you felt that John Wick and Taken were only held back by their dearth of Eddie Bauer-edition vehicles, then this is the movie for you. But it gets infinitely more enjoyable if you assume this movie answers the question, “What happened when the Little Prince grew up?”
Asteroid rank: 325
5. ‘Sin City: A Lame to Feel Bored’
Cast: Powers Boothe
I was wearing thin. Five movies into a Bruce Willis-athon for some two-bit website. Five movies in one sitting. Not technically true. But today isn’t the day for honesty. I’d run out of straight-to-video Willis movies. “Four won’t cut it,” my editor says. May as well be on his business card (or his tombstone). So it’s the “Sin City” sequel this time.
She hasn’t changed much since I last saw her. Same skin. Same violence. Same gravelly narration that would make Big Boss say “Hey, dial it back a bit.” And that’s the problem. The spark’s all gone. Like a stripper who has night classes, Bruce doesn’t feature enough.
Rank for Bruce fans: 4
Surprising number of “24” main characters: 3