Once I wrote this list I realized I’d missed a lot of amazing Bruce movies—Twelve Monkeys, Mercury Rising, The Jackal, Hudson Hawk, Blind Date, Striking Distance, The Whole Nine Yards—and I almost hate myself a little bit for not being more discriminating with my choices. But then I asked myself WWBD? The answer was glaring—he’d kill some terrorists and throw in some damn sassy one liners to boot. So here are some (not all) of my favourite Bruce Willis movie quotes. God bless you Bruce, you’re like Batman but way better.
1. “Yippee ki-yay motherfucker” John McClane, Die Hard (1988)
As a child everything I ever learned about being a good guy I learned from Bruce Willis in Die Hard. If you’re looking for some guidance I suggest John McClane as the ultimate good guy mentor. He shows you how wanton killing with machine guns and basic human goodness are not mutually exclusive, and that the two can exists harmoniously. He also shows you that you can do anything, even run through broken glass, without shoes (personally I’d be more impressed if he did it without pants) and that a surly ass attitude will get you everywhere, especially if you’re murdering terrorists while cussing like a pirate.
2. “Zed’s dead baby, Zed’s dead” Butch Coolidge, Pulp Fiction (1994)
Bruce Willis has the best scenes in Pulp Fiction. Yeah, yeah we all love Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth holding up the diner and John Travolta jamming a giant syringe in Uma Thurman’s heart, but the weapon choosing scene? Genius. The samurai sword? Genuis vomiting genius then eating the genius vomit and exploding genius all over everything. Butch going back to his cutesy-pie French girlfriend with a new motorcycle that’s not really a motorcycle but a chopper and throwing ‘baby’ nonchalantly at the end of a sentence about the dead man whose motorcycle he stole? Well, you don’t even want to know what kind of genius that is.
3. “Play some rap music” Joe Hallenbeck, The Last Boy Scout (1991)
If I didn’t love Die Hard so much I’d say The Last Boy Scout is Bruce Willis’ best movie ever and that he should win some sort of award for being stupidly awesome, like maybe an Oscar, but he’d probably just end up using the little gold dude in some ingenious fashion to kill a terrorist. The scene in The Last Boy Scout where Hallenbeck is caught, surrounded, and harangued by the head bad guy is the epitome of Willis style—Milo pokes a knife at him and says some really mean things about wanting to hear Hallenbeck scream. But all Hallenbeck wants is to hear some Ja. This is bad ass at its most bad ass.
4. “The United States government just asked us to save the world. Anybody wanna say no?” Harry Stamper, Armageddon (1998)
There’s a giant piece of space crap hurtling towards the earth threatening to destroy life as we know it—who’s there to save the day? Not John Cusack, that’s for sure. Sometimes, I feel like if the world were actually about to end, Bruce Willis would throw himself in front of the bus or the meteor or the pack of terrorists to save us all, especially if the US government asked him to (maybe even moreso if the US government expressly forbid him from doing so, see: Hard, Die). Probably also the only time I’ve ever cried out of sadness in a Bruce Willis film (hello, gut wrenching goodbye to hot daughter Liv Tyler. God I just welled up even thinking about it), normally I just wee myself a little bit with excitement.
5. “Listen lady, I only speak two languages: English and bad English” Korben Dallas, The Fifth Element (1997)
Korben Dallas has all the good-guy-with-a-sassy-attitude-and-bad-language charm of John McClane—and then some (if you got what I just did there we need to get married right this second). A recurring theme in all Bruce Willis characters, the “I’m going to save you, but I’m going to do it grudgingly while saying ‘fuck’ so many times your vagina is going to shrivel into itself and die, plus I’m going to smoke so many cigarettes that Don Draper is going to look like a massive pussy,” attitude never stales for me, just endears me to him more. And turns me on. A lot.
6. “I believe in love, I believe in cancer” Joe Hallenbeck, The Last Boy Scout (1991)
A Bruce Willis character wouldn’t be a Bruce Willis character without an ex-wife and an absolute distaste for romance. It doesn’t matter though—as long as he pulls me out of a burning building after shooting 80 terrorists with only 3 bullets and sticks it to me on the sidewalk while everything falls apart around us, I’ll be happy.
7. “Hell of a way to end a partnership. Hell of a way to start my retirement” Hartigan, Sin City (2005)
As above, a Bruce Willis character wouldn’t be a Bruce Willis character unless he was retired and somehow pulled out of retirement by a series of events completely out of his control (normally something to do with terrorism). Hartigan is the embodiment of the Bruce Willis paradigm, dry, earnest, self-deprecating, used-up and with nothing to lose, but ultimately, just wanting to save a whole bunch of shit while brutalizing bad guys by shooting them in the nuts.
8. “Now I have a machine gun, HO HO HO” Hans Gruber, Die Hard (1988)
You have to say this in Alan Rickman’s thick terrorist accent otherwise it loses its charm. The ultimate Die Hard moment—the terrorized turns the tables to become sheer terror itself. I still fist pump when I watch Die Hard, and I still get that sense of ‘yes, now some really good shit is going to happen!’ when McClane gets his gun. Bad guys beware—a down ass cop with nothing to lose is the last guy you want on the other team. He is going to fuck shit up, and he will kill your brother.
9. “This is the ’90s. You don’t just go around punching people. You have to say something cool first” Joe Hallenbeck, The Last Boy Scout (1991)
Just a whole bunch of swooning going on over here, as you were.
10. The part in Last Man Standing where John Smith is screwing a prostitute and a shit ton of gangsters with Tommy guns burst into the room and shoot at him. Smith grabs a hand-gun off the nightstand and kills everyone, while naked, and even manages to push the whore around a bit for selling him out.
He doesn’t say anything. He doesn’t need to. He just owns everyone. Have you seen the movie? It’s all in the title. No seriously. In this movie Bruce Willis kills EVERYONE.