Looking Back: The Best of Bruce Willis, Ranked


| LAST UPDATE 02/20/2023

By Malikah Mcintosh

No one can do it quite like Willis. From comedies where he voices a baby to saving LA from terrorists, Bruce Willis is one of a kind. We're looking back at his most memorable roles, as ranked by Rotten Tomatoes.

30. What Just Happened? (2008)

Coming in at #30 on the ranked list of Bruce Willis movies is the satirical comedy What Just Happened? The R-rated film takes an inside look at the life of a Hollywood producer, played by Robert De Niro.

What Just Happened Bruce WillisWhat Just Happened Bruce Willis
2929 Prods/Kobal via Shutterstock

In the movie, Bruce Willis played an actor who refused to shave his beard for a role. Academy Award-winning director Barry Levinson directed the 2008 comedy, which came out with mixed reviews and a 50% rating on the Rotten Tomatoes' tomatometer. While it may not be his most famous work, we're only at the beginning of the list...

29. Lucky Number Slevin (2006)

Next up is the Paul McGuigan-directed thriller Lucky Number Slevin. The 2006 film follows Slevin, played by Josh Hartnett, who accidentally gets stuck in a war between two crime lords and is helped by a detective and an assassin, played by Willis, to save himself before time runs out. 

Lucky Number Slevin Bruce WillisLucky Number Slevin Bruce Willis
Filmengine/MGM/Kobal via Shutterstock

The action-packed thriller full of twists and turns received a 51% on the tomatometer. While it may not be as popular as Willis's other movies, there is nothing that Bruce Willis can't pull off, which includes wearing and looking good in a fedora hat. The next movie on the list may surprise you.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

28. Alpha Dog (2006)

In this drama, Bruce Willis takes a turn to the dark side. Based on a true story, director Nick Cassavetes took audiences on a wild ride with Emile Hirsch starring as the leader of this trouble-making group. He orders the kidnapping and eventual murder of a young Zack Mazursky, played by the late Anton Yelchin.

Bruce Willis Movie Alpha DogBruce Willis Movie Alpha Dog
Darren Michaels/Sidney Kimmel/Kobal via Shutterstock

Willis starred as Emile Hirsch's dad, Sonny Truelove. He's a man who operates on the other side of the law, and his character was inspired by the real-life figure John "Jack" Hollywood. The movie ranks at 54% on the tomatometer. The New York Post called it "Irresponsible, uncommercial but surprisingly watchable."

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

27. Death Becomes Her (1992)

This dark comedy showed off Willis's more comedic chops. Robert Zemeckis, famous for directing the Back to the Future trilogy, took audiences on a wild ride with this fantastic and mind-bending film. It landed at #28 with a 55% rating on the tomatometer. 

Meryl Streep Bruce Willis MovieMeryl Streep Bruce Willis Movie
Universal/Kobal via Shutterstock

There was a chance that Bruce Willis wouldn't be in Death Becomes Her. Originally, Kevin Kline was cast as Dr. Ernest Menville but dropped out due to a disagreement over payment with the studio. Jeff Bridges and Nick Nolte were both in the running for the part before it eventually went to Willis. That was a close call!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

26. Look Who's Talking (1989)

There is nothing that Bruce Willis can't do, and that includes playing a newborn baby. In this 1989 comedy, Willis voices the newborn baby of Mollie Jensen, played by the late Kirstie Alley, as she navigates life and love as a single mother. The fun and zany film received a 55% on the tomatometer.

Look Who's Talking WillisLook Who's Talking Willis
Movieclips via YouTube

Ryan Murphy from the Miami Herald wrote, "As the movie proves, out of the mouths of babes come wonderful nuggets of truth and humor." Amy Heckerling, who directed hits like Clueless and Fast Times at Ridgemont High, was also behind the hilarious genius of this movie. Audiences loved it so much that they made two sequels!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

25. 16 Blocks (2006)

In 16 Blocks, Bruce Willis plays a dejected NYPD cop - sound familiar? He is assigned to take a trial witness Eddie Bunker, played by Mos Def, to the courthouse. What was meant to be an easy task turns into a game of life and death when corrupt cops come after them, looking to take Bunker out forever.

16 Blocks Bruce Willis16 Blocks Bruce Willis
Warner Bros/Kobal via Shutterstock

The film comes in at #25 with 56% on the tomatometer score. Newsday critic Jan Stuart wrote, "The show really belongs to Willis, who brings a hangdog authority to the midlife action pose of paunchy, hungover, yet ready to rock and roll." Nothing can stop this action-loving actor. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

24. The Astronaut Farmer (2007)

Although Bruce Willis did not have a starring role in this movie, his role certainly made a big enough impact to make it on this ranked list. The Astronaut Farmer starred Billy Bob Thornton as a trained astronaut turned rancher who decides to live out his dream by building a rocket in his backyard.

The Astronaut Farmer Bruce WillisThe Astronaut Farmer Bruce Willis
Warner Bros. via YouTube

The San Francisco Chronicle wrote, "The Astronaut Farmer's goofy quality makes it totally endearing. It's also super entertaining. Critics are fond of referring to movies as a 'great ride.' With this one, the words couldn't be more apt." With a review like that, it is easy to see why it has 58% on the tomatometer. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

23. Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995)

The third time that Willis's iconic character, John McClane, comes to the rescue is #23 on our ranking. In this action-packed movie, McClane is unemployed, divorced, and down on his luck. When a terrorist preys on New York City, it is up to McClane and his new partner in crime, Zeus Carver, played by Samuel L. Jackson, to save the day.

Best Die Hard Sequel Best Die Hard Sequel
Cinergi/20th Century Fox/Kobal via Shutterstock

Die Hard With a Vengeance comes in on the Rotten Tomatoes' tomatometer with 58%. While it is the lowest of the Die Hard films, it certainly does not mean it's the least. The New York Times said, "Pure action, with bigger and better explosions and stunts." Let's see what comes next...

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

22. Mortal Thoughts (1991)

In this drama that scored a 60% on the tomatometer, it isn't Bruce Willis who does the saving. In fact, he does quite the opposite. He played the unlikable James Urbanksi, who was murdered. Now, police must unravel who killed him, except it is hard to unravel the truth when anyone around him could have been the killer.

Mortal Thoughts Bruce WillisMortal Thoughts Bruce Willis
Moviestore via Shutterstock

Willis starred alongside his then-wife, Demi Moore, in the film. It was the only film in which the couple had lead roles opposite each other. Glenne Headly and Harvey Keitel also star in the movie, which was directed by Alan Rudolph. While it wasn't Willis who saved the day in this movie, what about the next one?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

21. Hart's War (2002)

For this movie, Willis traded his usual police uniform for a military one and traveled back a few decades. Hart's War takes place in WWII, and Willis starred as Colonel William McNamara. As the highest-ranking official in the POW camp, McNamara still is in charge of his soldiers while they are held captive by the German forces. 

Hart's War Bruce WillisHart's War Bruce Willis
Murray Close/MGM/Kobal via Shutterstock

McNamara assigned Lieutenant Tommy Hart, played by Colin Farrell, to protect Lieutenant Lincoln Scott, played by Terrence Howard, who was accused of murdering another prisoner. The Gregory Hoblit-directed war drama earned a 60% on the tomatometer. While this movie is about courage and sacrifice, the next one strays from that path.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

20. Bandits (2001)

This riot-filled action comedy teams up Bruce Willis and Barry Levinson for the first time in their careers. Bruce Willis played Joe Blake, a bank robber who breaks out of prison with his partner, Terry Collins, played by Billy Bob Thornton. The two make their way south toward Mexico, robbing banks and getting by.

Bruce Willis Movie BanditsBruce Willis Movie Bandits
Richard Cartwright/MGM/Kobal via Shutterstock

However, their plans get derailed when Kate Wheeler, played by Cate Blanchett, joins along, and both men end up falling in love with her. Coming in at #20, Bandits has a 64% score on the tomatometer. The Washington Post wrote, "Almost every scene has something to chuckle over." Sounds like a good way to steal away a few hours. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

19. Motherless Brooklyn (2019)

Set in the 1950s, Motherless Brooklyn is a crime thriller that follows the lonely life of detective Lionel Essrog, played by Ed Norton, who has Tourette's. Bruce Willis starred as Frank Minna, the boss of the agency where Essrog and others work. When Minna is murdered, it is up to Essrog to solve the murder of his mentor and friend. 

Bruce Willis last movieBruce Willis last movie
Warner Bros. Pictures via YouTube

The film ranked in the top twenty Bruce Willis films with a 64% on the tomatometer. Not only did Ed Norton star in the movie, but he also directed and co-wrote the script. The next movie on the list takes things way back to the beginning of Willis's career. Who is ready for a #throwback moment?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

18. In Country (1989)

In Country tells the story of Samantha Hughes, played by Emily Lloyd, who lives with her uncle, Emmett Smith, played by Bruce Willis, in a small town. She helps him as his mental and physical well-being is compromised from the Vietnam War in hopes of learning more about her own father, who died overseas in the war. 

Bruce Willis Best MoviesBruce Willis Best Movies
Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock via YouTube

Rolling Stone wrote, "With uncanny skill, Willis finds the frightened kid hiding behind Emmett's detached stare. He gives a dynamite performance, both touching and haunting." Having a review like that, it is no wonder this movie is in Willis's top 20 with a 68% score on the tomatometer.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

17. The Expendables 2 (2012)

This exhilarating sequel brings together Hollywood's action stars, including Bruce Willis as Mr. Church. Church is a CIA operative who approaches the Expendables team with what seems to be an easy task, but things spiral out of control, and now it is up to this team of mercenaries to save the world.

Bruce Willis Expendables 2Bruce Willis Expendables 2
Lionsgate Movies via YouTube

From Sylvester Stallone to Jason Statham, this movie is full of the best in the genre. It is ranked 67% on the Rotten Tomatoes' tomatometer. The New York Post said, "It's hard not to like a movie in which Bruce Willis' toupee-less CIA agent accuses Stallone's ragtag band of mercenaries of engaging in 'male pattern badness.'"

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

16. Die Hard 2 (1990)

Bruce Willis has to save the day again in this sequel. This time he's coming out to the other coast for a few laughs. Set a year after the first film, John McClane finds himself in the midst of another terrorist plot at the Washington Dulles International Airport. No matter where John McClane goes, trouble always seems to follow.

Die Hard 2 McClane WillisDie Hard 2 McClane Willis
20th Century Fox/Kobal via Shutterstock

The sequel has a 70% score on the tomatometer. The New York Times wrote, "It will surprise no one who saw the first Die Hard that the heart and soul of the new film is Bruce Willis, who this time is even better." It just keeps getting better, especially with the next movie on the list, which took audiences for a twisting ride.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

15. Unbreakable (2000)

Director M. Night Shyamalan reunited with Bruce Willis for this mind-bending superhero thriller. Willis starred as David Dunn, a man who has survived a train crash free of injury. Elijah Price, played by Samuel L. Jackson, suggests to Dunn he could be one of the "unbreakable" people. What happens next is full of twists and turns.

Bruce Willis Samuel Jackson MovieBruce Willis Samuel Jackson Movie
Frank Masi/Touchstone/Kobal via Shutterstock

Unbreakable comes in halfway through the list with a score of 70%. While it may not have been a favorite of critics, it sparked a cult following with some prominent fans. For example, Django Unchained director Quentin Tarantino put it in his top 20 movies released after 1992. How's that for a Shyamalan ending?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

14. Beavis and Butt-Head Do America (1996)

Beavis and Butt-head, both voiced by Mike Judge, end up on a cross-country adventure when their television is stolen. Things spin out of control when they accidentally get involved in a scheme run by Muddy Grimes, voiced by Willis, that involves his wife, Dallas, voiced by Demi Moore. The film earned a 71% on the tomatometer.

Beavis Butthead Bruce WillisBeavis Butthead Bruce Willis
Movieclips via YouTube

In this movie, real-life couple Demi Moore and Bruce Willis actually played a couple. Here's what the Los Angeles Times had to say about the movie, "Successfully brings to the big screen those no-brainer nerds who have brought laughter to living rooms around the world for nearly four years." 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

13. The Fifth Element (1997)

With 71% on the Rotten Tomatoes' tomatometer is Luc Besson's The Fifth Element. The Los Angeles Times said it best about this Bruce Willis starring film, "There's no doubt about it, when it comes to saving the world, Bruce Willis is your man. He does it with smarts and style, humor and courage."

Fifth Element Movie WillisFifth Element Movie Willis
Moviestore via Shutterstock

Set in the future, a cab driver, played by Willis, ends up having to save the world when Leeloo, played by Milla Jovovich, gets into his cab. With the help of others, they must unite all five elements to stop the Great Evil from destroying humanity. No matter the decade or galaxy, Bruce Willis is always here to save the day.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

12. Red (2010)

This next movie, Red, showed that Bruce Willis still had his action chops locked and ready all these years later. When former CIA agent Frank Moses, played by Willis, narrowly survives an assassination attempt, he is forced to call his old friends to reunite. They uncover a huge conspiracy and must work together to save the day.

Bruce Willis Best Movie RedBruce Willis Best Movie Red
Summit Entertainment/Kobal via Shutterstock

Morgan Freeman, John Malkovich, and Dame Helen Mirren starred alongside Willis in his fun and action-filled comedy. Inspired by a comic book of the same name, the movie earned a 71% on the tomatometer. Australia's The Age called it "A fast, funny, smart, adult-oriented action-comedy..." We're in!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

11. Over the Hedge (2006)

Coming up is the animated comedy feature Over the Hedge. Bruce Willis lent his voice to RJ, the raccoon, who has gotten into a bit of a predicament. He must repay a food debt to a bear, so he tricks his fellow woodland creatures into helping him by invading the suburbs.

Over the Hedge RJ WillisOver the Hedge RJ Willis
Dreamworks Skg/Kobal via Shutterstock

In another twist of fate, Willis originally wasn't attached to this role. It was Jim Carrey who was set to voice the charismatic raccoon. The movie earned a deserving 75% score on the Rotten Tomatoes' tomatometer. So, what movies will make the top ten? 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

10. Planet Terror (2007)

Now we are getting closer to the top of the list, with Planet Terror sitting at #10. This film marks the second time that Bruce Willis joined up with director Robert Rodriguez. According to EW, while filming Sin City, Willis told him, "I'll come make anything with you." 

Bruce Willis Planet Terror ReviewBruce Willis Planet Terror Review
IMDb - Planet Terror (2007) via Dimension Films

Flash forward two years, and Willis joined the cast of Planet Terror as Lieutenant Muldoon. The zombie horror has a 76% on the tomatometer and takes place after an experimental bio-weapon is released, causing thousands to turn into zombies. A group of survivors must fight their way out of the town to safety. 

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

9. Sin City (2005)

Based on the graphic novel by Frank Miller, Sin City is considered one of the best Bruce Willis movies, according to the tomatometer, with a 77% rating. In classic Bruce fashion, he starred as Detective John Hartigan. A cop who takes it upon himself to protect a young girl from a serial killer. 

Sin City Cast Bruce WillisSin City Cast Bruce Willis
Dimension Films/Kobal via Shutterstock

The extremely stylized and pulpy movie wowed critics and stunned audiences. The Chicago Sun-Times wrote, "It's a visualization of the pulp noir imagination, uncompromising and extreme. Yes, and brilliant." It was brilliant enough to make it into the top ten.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

8. Live Free or Die Hard (2007)

In the fourth installment of the Die Hard series, John McClane is back in one of the biggest ways possible. From jumping onto fighter jets to plowing through traffic in a semi-truck, Bruce Willis proved that there is nothing that McClane can't do. Live Free received a whopping 82% on the tomatometer. 

Bruce Willis John McClane MoviesBruce Willis John McClane Movies
Frank Masi/20th Century Fox/Kobal via Shutterstock

McClane must bring down a terrorist who is attacking all of America's infrastructure with the help of a hacker, played by Justin Long. Rolling Stone praised the film, "Live Free or Die Hard gets the action job done, and you better believe that Bruce is still the man." What could be next? Our senses are tingling.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

7. The Sixth Sense (1999)

"I see dead people." The line is almost as iconic as the movie itself. Although Willis did not utter this famous line, he was part of one of the greatest thrillers ever made. The Sixth Sense has an 86% on the tomatometer and was a critical and commercial success. It landed director M. Night Shayamalan on the map forever.

Sixth Sense Bruce WillisSixth Sense Bruce Willis

Willis starred as child psychologist Dr. Malcolm Crowe who is helping out Cole, played by Haley Joel Osment, who claims he can see and speak to dead people. They embark on a journey together that ends with such a twist that it still shocks viewers today. Keep scrolling to see what's coming up!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

6. 12 Monkeys (1995)

12 Monkeys is a dystopian sci-fi thriller in a world completely ruined by a man-made disease. Convict James Cole, played by our favorite leading man Bruce Willis, volunteers to go back in time to learn more about the virus and how it started. Directed by Terry Gilliam, this thriller received an 88% on the tomatometer. 

12 Monkeys Bruce Willis12 Monkeys Bruce Willis
Phillip Caruso/Polygram/Kobal via Shutterstock

Rolling Stone wrote, "Bruce Willis, in an eruptive performance of startling emotional intensity, stars as Cole, a prisoner tagged for an experiment that may get him killed." Brad Pitt and Madeleine Stowe also starred in 12 Monkeys. So, what will be #5?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

5. Nobody's Fool (1994)

At the #5 spot on the best Bruce Willis movies, according to Rotten Tomatoes, is the dramedy Nobody's Fool. Paul Newman starred as Sully, a man who has been avoiding responsibilities for most of his life until his son, played by Dylan Walsh, shows up at his doorstep with a grandson.

Bruce Willis Movie Nobody's FoolBruce Willis Movie Nobody's Fool
IMDb - Nobody's Fool (1994) via Paramount Pictures

With a 91% rating on the tomatometer, it is easy to see why the San Francisco Chronicle said, "It's a gem." Willis starred as Carl Roebuck, the local contractor who plays cards with Sully and is constantly suing him. This next movie will likely surprise no one...

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

4. Pulp Fiction (1994)

Coming up next is director Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece Pulp Fiction. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was entered into the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress for preservation. It has been on countless favorites and 'best movies ever made' lists since its release.

Pulp Fiction Tarantino WillisPulp Fiction Tarantino Willis
Linda R Chen/Miramax/Buena Vista Kobal via Shutterstock

Bruce Willis starred as boxer Butch Coolidge who gets tangled in the criminal underworld of Los Angeles. Alongside Willis, the movie featured John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Uma Thurman, and a cameo appearance from Tarantino that received a 92% on the tomatometer. Keep scrolling to see who will receive the top honor.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

3. Moonrise Kingdom (2012)

Wes Anderson, in typical Wes Anderson fashion, created a joyous and quirky movie filled with excellent actors and a zany plotline with Moonrise Kingdom. When 12-year-olds Sam and Suzy fall in love, they decide to run away, but with a turbulent storm approaching, the adults must find them before it comes pouring down.

Moonrise Kingdom Bruce WillisMoonrise Kingdom Bruce Willis
Indian Paintbrush/Kobal via Shutterstock

Willis starred as Captain Sharp, the policeman in charge of the search party for the two kids. Anderson said, "I had Jimmy Stewart in mind, but when I was done, [Bruce Willis] was at the top of the list." Moonrise Kingdom received a 93% on the tomatometer, landing it in the #3 spot.

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

2. Looper (2012)

With a mind-blowing 93% on the Rotten Tomatoes tomatometer is the sci-fi thriller Looper. In this dystopian future, time travel exists, but only for those willing to pay the price. Joe, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, works as a hired gunman who loops back in time to eliminate targets for the mob.

Looper Bruce Willis MovieLooper Bruce Willis Movie
Filmdistrict/Kobal via Shutterstock

However, things turn upside down when Joe's future self, played by Bruce Willis, is sent to kill himself and "close the loop." Director Rian Johnson took audiences on a wild ride, with critics praising his efforts. Now that we only have one movie left on the list. What can it be?

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below

1. Die Hard (1988)

It is none other than Die Hard. The action classic has rightfully earned its spot as the #1 Bruce Willis movie and 94% on the tomatometer. Bruce Willis starred as NYPD Detective John McClane. On Christmas Eve, he visits his estranged wife when terrorists take over the building. McClane realizes it is up to him to save the day.

Die Hard Bruce Willis SceneDie Hard Bruce Willis Scene
20th Century Fox/Kobal via Shutterstock

Whether it is considered a Christmas movie or not will always be up for debate, but what won't be is the enduring influence the flick has had over the decades. From sequels to countless ripoffs, nobody does it quite like Willis. There's only one thing left to say - yippie-ki-yay!

Advertisement - Continue Reading Below