I’ve said it before – and it doesn’t matter who agrees: Bruce Willis knows what he’s doing. Unlike actors who could care less what we fans want (Zac Efron leaving high school, Denzel Washington becoming a crooked cop, Willis knows that no matter what he does, his career began with “Die Hard.” No, not “Moonlighting” (although what he did was take David Allison out of Maddie’s arms and into a New York precinct.
Willis has range. Some of his best roles came in films with great character and unusual names – 2003’s “Tears of the Sun” (when he was a special-ops commander rescuing a doctor and 70 unexpected refugees from a Nigerian jungle) and the brilliant “16 Blocks” (when he was a veteran cop escorting witness Mos Def to from a police precinct to a courthouse while bad guys tried to kill them in every block).
But no Willis character has endeared him to the public as much as John McClane, the gun-toting, fun-loving, whining hero who saves the world once a year.
So the moment I heard the release date for “Die Hard 5,” I marked my calendar. Yes, I’m among those awaiting “Die Hard 5” the way some kids are waiting for the next “Twilight” movie. I can’t get enough of John McClane – and I, for one, am thrilled that Wills, who could eschew action films, hasn’t forgotten his roots, appreciates action and has at least four shoot-em-ups coming down the pike. His fans appreciate it. No, we really appreciate it.
So for those actors who don’t get it, don’t care and think they’re too good to do popular films, they should learn a lesson from Liam Neeson, whose 2008 “Taken” was such an unexpected blockbuster that Liam Neeson gave us action fans new lexicon “I have a very particular set of skills.”
They should learn a lesson from Robert Downey Jr., perhaps America’s greatest actor under 50. (Morgan Freeman and Robert Duvall still rule the over 50 set.) Downey donned an “Iron Man” suit, and as I sat in the theater on opening day, I knew it would be huge, possibly the biggest film of the year, perhaps the decade.
And they can learn a thing or two from Willis, who puts his fans first and keeps doing “Die Hards” because we, his fans, want them. Because he works for us, he’ll be running the long race – and we’ll be right there beside him.
Or in the center row in the center of the theater, where I’ll be sitting for “Die Hard 10.”