Bet you didn’t know Bruce Willis was in eight movies last year? True story. The actor seems to have spent the pandemic languishing, barefooted and bleeding, in the bargain bin corner of Hollywood, starring in a multitude of movies.
The Golden Raspberry Awards – aka the Razzies – is, of course, the ultimate in kicking-an-actor-when-they’re-down schadenfreude. The Razzie jury has watched all eight films and has seen fit to create a whole new award in Bruce’s honour: ‘Worst Performance by Bruce Willis in a 2021 Movie’.
Secondly: what are these movies and when did they happen? And which is likely to score Willis that Razzie? It’s a dishonour, let’s not forget, he managed to swerve for such cinematic bin juice as Color of Night, Death Wish and A Good Day to Die Hard. (Although he did win, a little harshly, for the 1998 triple threat of Armageddon, Mercury Rising and The Siege.)
We’ve dug a little deeper in the Bruce-iverse to filter out the main contenders from the rank outsiders in this category.
1. Out of Death
Who does Bruce play? Out of Death (wait, Out of Death??!) has Willis playing a retired cop called Jack Harris. A hiker (Jaime King) has witnessed a drug deal by some corrupt cops and is about to be executed in the Georgia wilderness. Enter – at no great speed – Bruce’s veteran law enforcer to save the day in this dopey cat-and-mouse thriller.
What did the critics say? ‘In close-up, the Die Hard star just seems bored, tired or both.’ – The Scotsman
Rotten Tomato score: 0%
Who does Bruce play? He’s a bad guy, Ron Whitlock, who is an ex-special forces soldier and ex-con (again) leading a crack team of mercenaries to take over a Georgia power plant. It’s not ex-cellent.
What did the critics say? ‘Willis looks vaguely annoyed all the time and is mostly in an immobile sitting position.’ – Common Sense Media
Rotten Tomato score: n/a
3. Cosmic Sin
Who does Bruce play? It’s 2524 and Bruce is still starring in straight-to-VOD tosh retired general James Ford, recalled to the colours to battle some goofy aliens alongside Frank Grillo’s gnarly military dude. Reams of convoluted sci-fi jargon ensues in a film they could easily have called Starship Bloopers.
What did the critics say? ‘To suggest that Bruce Willis is phoning in his performance would be an insult to telephone communication.’ – RogerEbert.com
Rotten Tomato score: 3%
Who does Bruce play? He’s Robert, an ex-CIA retiree whose rural quiet life turns into a world of pain when his estranged cryptocurrency entrepreneur son turns up and brings some villains in his wake. There are mercenaries – because there are always mercenaries – and a gun-toting Shannen Doherty rocks up. Neither can get Bruce out of his chair for very long.
What did the critics say? ‘At one time, Bruce Willis’s presence boosted a small movie; lately, he’s a liability.’ – New York Times
Rotten Tomato score: 20%
5. Midnight in the Switchgrass
Who does Bruce play? The Florida Panhandle plays host to a murky thriller in which Bruce plays Karl Helter, an FBI agent on the hunt for a serial killer. It’s probably best known as the film that brought Megan Fox and Machine Gun Kelly together, and which, in an unexpected but critically aligned early review, Kelly himself slagged off on Twitter. And for making people look back fondly on Striking Distance.
What did the critics say? ‘Bruce Willis [delivers] a spectacular impersonation of a wax dummy.’ – Slate
Rotten Tomato score: 8%
Who does Bruce play? He’s Thomas Malone, an ex-soldier and ex-cop (natch) turned convict, who is promised his liberty if he can survive 24 hours on Apex Island. The wrinkle? He’s being tracked down by a posse of bloodthirsty hunters. The other wrinkle? He’s half-asleep.
What did the critics say? ‘I’m not exactly sure what’s going on in Willis’s life that’s compelling him to burn off his thespian credibility with these low-budget, brain-dead endeavours, but he’s determined to do it.’ – Blu-ray.com
Rotten Tomato score: 0%
7. American Siege
Who does Bruce play? The one-time John McClane plays another law enforcer, this time boozy Georgia Sheriff Ben Watts. It’s his job to keep a town full of thinly sketched stereotypes on the straight and narrow. But then there’s a siege and Watts is going to need to save some people… if he can be arsed.
What did the critics say? ‘As ever, Willis could double as a piece of expensive lawn furniture.’ – Ready Steady Cut
Rotten Tomato score: 0%
8. Survive the Game
Who does Bruce play? Bruce’s fourth 2021 team-up with genre movie super-producer Randall Emmett (alongside The Fortress, Midnight in the Switchgrass and Out of Death), has him starring as, yup, a cop. Specifically, a wounded cop called David who is easy picking for any drugs gang or phoned-in screenwriting in the area. In a normal year, this would surely be any given actor’s worst effort. For 2021 Bruce Willis, it is basically Citizen Kane.
What did the critics say? ‘Bruce Willis continues his campaign of reputation self-ruin with this cruddy, derivative action thriller.’ – The Guardian
Rotten Tomato score: 14%