‘Cop Out’
13 Images

Bruce’s bombs and bangs

‘Cop Out’
The Bruce Willis film “Cop Out” is a throwback to the buddy action films of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s -- think “The Last Boy Scout.” It was also Bruce’s chance to make another breakout hit and propel his superstardom into a fourth decade, or was it just a total bomb? Bruce has had his share of both and there are very few in-betweens. Here’s a look back at his highest-highs and lowest-lows. (Abbot Genser / Warner Bros.)
BANG: ‘Die Hard’ (1988)
Bruce Willis was a bartender-turned-TV star when he got the chance to shoot up Fox Plaza and in the process add “Yippee-kay-ay” to the lexicon of American action heroes. So influential was the film that for years afterward, action flicks were sold to studio execs as “ ‘Die Hard’ on a ... “ (20th Century Fox)
BOMB: ‘The Bonfire of the Vanities’ (1990)
The novel was the toast of the literary world, it starred the guy from “Die Hard” and Tom Hanks, the guy from “Big,” and the director had just scored a major hit with “The Untouchables.” So how could this studio picture lose? In many ways -- in so, so many ways. So influential was this flop that for years after, any film that went over budget or appeared troubled was described as “ ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ on a ... “ (Warner Bros.)
BOMB: ‘Hudson Hawk’ (1991)
Desperate to remove the stench of “Bonfire,” the still-young superstar moved on to an even bigger flop -- the costly action comedy “Hudson Hawk,” in which he not only starred with Andie MacDowell but helped come up with the story. The megabudget film -- reviled by critics and audiences alike -- grossed an unspectacular $17 million domestically. If not for his marriage to Demi Moore and her pregnant belly on the cover of Vanity Fair that summer, he might have fallen off the map altogether. (Columbia TriStar)
BANG: ‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)
The media saw John Travolta’s comeback as the big story in Quentin Tarantino’s lurid triptych, so Willis’ comeback didn’t get much notice. At some point between Christopher Walken’s monologue about saving a watch in Vietnam and Ving Rhames’ being sodomized in the basement of a pawn shop, Willis’ acting mojo returned in full force. (Linda R. Chen / Miramax Films)
BOMB: ‘Color of Night’ (1994)
To be fair, Willis made this low-rent erotic thriller before “Pulp Fiction” restored his movie-star luster. But his choice to do full-frontal nudity and get the film an NC-17 rating was big news at the time. The offending bits were snipped to earn a more audience-friendly R. Audiences weren’t friendly, though. (E.J.Camp)
BANG: ‘The Sixth Sense’ (1999)
By the time “The Sixth Sense” was released, Willis had cranked out a few big-budget action flicks that had raked in the dough, but the critics that once praised him for “Pulp Fiction” remained silent. Teaming up with creepy little Haley Joel Osment for writer-director M. Night Shyamalan’s haunting drama brought back the snobs and slobs. (Ron Phillips / Spyglass Entertainment Group)
BOMB: ‘The Story of Us’ (1999)
Though the movie tried to answer the question “Can a marriage survive 15 years of marriage?” perhaps it would have been better to ask “Can a career survive this kind of a box office flop?” Apparently nobody bought Willis having a hard time waking up to on-screen wife Michelle Pfeiffer every day. (Ralph Nelson / Sony)
BANG: ‘The Whole Nine Yards’ (2000)
Look at big Bruce stooping to share the silver screen with Matthew Perry, a lowly sitcom star (albeit one from a very big sitcom). Willis’ lack of ego served him well, making this light comedy a mild box office hit and justifying “The Whole Ten Yards” four years later. (Pierre Vinet / Warner Bros.)
BOMB: ‘Hart’s War’ (2002)
Bruce, Bruce, Bruce. Things were going so well. When the movies didn’t do big box office, people had stopped blaming you. Even the critics had started being nicer. But then you went and made this World War II drama that cost a stiff $70 million and grossed a paltry $32 million worldwide. The reviews were split on this one, but no one else seemed to care. (Murray Close)
BANG: ‘Sin City’ (2005)
And once again, the mighty Bruce surprises everyone by appearing in one of the year’s biggest hits, with cutting-edge style and the kind of world-weary attitude his fans have loved about him since “Die Hard.” He wasn’t the only star this time, just one of the many famous faces in one of the many stories in “Sin City.” It reminded people of his “Pulp Fiction” days, which was good enough for us. (Rico Torres / Dimension Films)
BOMB: ‘Grind House'(2007)
This double feature had all the makings for success: two big-name auteurs (Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez) and a whole boat-load of stars (including Bruce) but this love note to grimy ‘70s-era B-movies never clicked with modern audiences. Sleaze doesn’t go down so easy in a slick new multiplex.  (Rico Torres / Dimension Films)
BANG: ‘Live Free or Die Hard’ (2007)
There was some question as to whether or not Bruce could recapture the John McClane magic over a decade after his last run through the role, but the sheer over-the-top nature of his return silenced the critics. The first “Die Hard” featured Bruce running around an office building. This one featured Bruce fighting a jet in a semi on a collapsing freeway. Guess who wins? (Frank Masi / Twentieth Century Fox)