Anyone with even the slightest interest in action cinema has seen Die Hard at least a handful of times, but Bruce Willis has been phoning it in for so long that there’s now an entire generation of movie fans out there who don’t remember, or might not even be aware, that he was once one of the biggest and most bankable A-list stars on the planet.
Willis has appeared in a lot of critical and commercial successes throughout his distinguished career, including but by no means limited to, the original Die Hard trilogy, The Last Boy Scout, Pulp Fiction, 12 Monkeys, The Fifth Element, Armageddon, The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable and Sin City, but the last time you could truly say he delivered a memorable performance in a great film arguably came in 2012’s Looper.
Since then, he’s largely been plumbing the depths of the VOD thriller market, with the upcoming Midnight in the Switchgrass marking his fourth low budget effort to hit home video in less than twelve months, and he’s got another five in the works, but one of his increasingly frequent self-aware performances has been finding a solid audience on Netflix recently.
Bruce Willis drops by G.I. Joe: Retaliation as original vintage Joseph Colton, which would technically make him the title character of Jon M. Chu’s sequel. It’s one of the actor’s typically sleepy modern era turns, but it does at least generate a couple of laughs as he plays off his decades of action hero baggage. It’s far from a great movie, but there’s certainly some enjoyment to be found in it and the second installment in Hasbro’s toyetic military franchise troubles the Netflix rankings on a regular basis, which is an impressive level of staying power for a middling blockbuster that didn’t prove lucrative enough to launch the multi-film series that Paramount are desperately craving.