Feature by: Jack Foley
BRUCE Willis admits that the time has come for him to stop saving
the world or overcoming impossible odds to ensure that good triumphs
That said, there is still a place for action movies, but they
need to be more clever, and the first step towards achieving this
goal is his latest thriller, Hostage.
"It's a really complicated novel," he explained during
a recent London press conference.
"And it was a good opportunity for me to make a movie that
had some action in it, was a psychological thriller, but wasn't
a Bruce Willis movie.
"Because of the success of a couple of films that I've done,
the Die Hard series, Armageddon, things like that, I've saved
the world six or seven times now and I think audiences are expecting
me to save the day.
"But this storyline was about a guy who looks like he's
going to lose, and the director, Florent Siri, and I worked very
hard at constructing a story that had multiple obstacles in it
- both emotional, psychological and physiological."
The story in question finds Willis as former LAPD hostage negotiator,
Jeff Talley, who takes a low-profile job as chief of police in
the low-crime town of Bristo Camino following a disastrous negotiation
that resulted in the deaths of a young mother and her child.
Talley is called back into action, however, when three delinquent
teenagers follow a rich family home, intending to take their car,
only to find themselves trapped in the multi-million dollar compound
of Kevin Pollack's corrupt accountant.
To complicate matters still further, however, the accountant
they have taken hostage (with his two children) works for some
particularly unsavoury businessmen who have their own part to
play in the ensuing negotiations.
Willis describes Hostage as 'a very smart story' and is pleased
to be a part of it, particularly as it allows him to act his age
while still delivering a little of what his fans have come to
expect from him.
"This film solved the puzzle for me. I was widely misquoted
about taking a break from action movies.
"When I did the first Die Hard
and Mel Gibson did the first Lethal Weapon, those were the modern
version of the good guys over bad guys, and over 20 years that
kind of got done - I did three of them and Mel did 4.
"But it kind of got bastardized. I'd get so many thrown
my way that I turned down, but that got made into films such as
Die Hard on a Plane - I'm sure you remember the title; Die Hard
in the White House, Die Hard in a Delicatessen, and I just got
sick of running down the street with a gun in my hand shouting
"So I needed to take a little break. What I also said, and
which got reported less, was that I thought it was time for the
genre to reinvent itself and for the stories to get a little smarter."
Willis has certainly followed his own advice. For while his film
career was launched becase of the success of gung-ho action roles,
such as Die Hard and The Last Boy Scout, he has also sought to
keep things varied.
Hence, for every Die Hard sequel, there has been something a
little more different, such as The Sixth Sense or Nobody's Fool.
Not everything has been a hit, of course, but it has allowed
Willis to extend his range, take on new challenges and venture
into more character-driven pieces that should ensure that his
career continues to be healthy.
Next up, for instance, is Robert Rodriguez's eagerly-anticipated
Sin City, as well as Lucky Number Slevin (with Sir Ben Kingsley),
Alpha Dog (for Nick Cassavetes) and the much-touted Die Hard 4.0.
Of the new projects, he seems particularly pleased with Sin City,
stating: "It's going to blow your mind. You'll go back and
see it three times, it's so good.
"Remember how you felt when you saw the first Star
Wars and you just thought `How did they do that?' That's how
you'll feel when you see Sin City. We shot it in an aircraft hangar
that was all green."
And of Die Hard 4.0, he adds: "I think the days of jumping
off the roof of Nagatomi Towers are done."
Looking further ahead, meanwhile, Willis is convinced he still
has plenty to offer.
"I do believe I'm still learning how to act and I've always
said that I thought my best work would come in these years, from
40-60, if I was fortunate enough to still be around.
"It is hard to stick around, but look at Clint Eastwood,
he's been going for 45 years, and it's a good goal to have."