Bruce Willis Action Movie Flop Is Now Killing It on Netflix

by Josh Lanier

Bruce Willis has spent most of the last several years making films that open in the $5 DVD bin, Redbox, or on VOD screens. There is the occasional gem, but some end up forgotten to time. Then there are the ones that go forgotten in theaters but find their footing on streaming years later.

That’s the case with 2018’s Death Wish. The movie is an update on the 1970s Charles Bronson classic. In the new version, robbers kill Paul Kersey’s (Bruce Willis) wife and hospitalize his daughter in a burglary gone awry. Willis goes on a rampage to find the perpetrators and rid his city of every violent criminal he can find.

Critics hated the movie. The Eli Roth-directed remake has an 18 percent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes. Most complain that the movie is pro-street violence. It has the added hurdle of living up to one of the most beloved revenge flicks from the era of revenge cinema.

The movie bombed in theaters, but audiences are finally checking it out now that it’s on Netflix. And the reviews aren’t nearly as bad. The Bruce Willis remake scored 71 percent with the audience. It’s one of the most-watched action movies on the platform right now.

Bruce Willis Thriller Big Hit on Netflix

Death Wish isn’t the only latter-day Bruce Willis film that fans are happy to see on Netflix. Looper, his time-bending thriller that co-stars Joseph Gordon-Levitt, is a mainstay on the streaming service’s Top 10 most-watched list.

Explaining the movie’s plot is a minefield of spoilers. Put safely, the mafia in the future sends people they want whacked back in time to hitmen called loopers. They get their name because when the hitmen’s contracts are up, the mafia sends them back in time where their younger selves kill them, closing their loops. Gordon-Levitt plays and Bruce Willis play the same hitman at different ages.

The movie was a big hit with critics with a 93 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes. Willis considers it one of his best films.

“It’s better than anything I’ve ever done,” Willis told Esquire. “It’s a story people are going to talk about and see twice and argue about. I was arguing with myself about the story when I read it the first time. That’s all Rian Johnson, beginning to end. Great, great director.”

Johnson is now most famous for directing The Last Jedi, the eighth Star Wars movie. Willis loved working with him.

“He wrote it, sold it, stuck with it, directed it, and finished it,” he told Esquire. “That’s just tough to do in this town. Someone always weasels into the process. That didn’t happen here, and if he never did anything else except that Herculean effort, he’d have made it in the business. Amazing.”