Paradise City: Bruce Willis’ Last Movie Let Down A Legend

Bruce Willis’ retirement is the end of a huge career for the Die Hard actor. Here’s why Willis’ last movie, Paradise City, truly let down a legend.

After over 40 years of making movies, Bruce Willis has announced his retirement ending his career with what should’ve been a perfect final role. Landing his first part in 1980, Willis has appeared on screens big and small nearly 150 times, has seven films releasing this year, and three more in post-production. Here’s why his last film, Paradise City, was supposed to be the perfect bon voyage, but ultimately let the legend down.

Paradise City was supposed to send action star Bruce Willis out with a bang, doing what he does best and playing the type of role that he usually thrives in. Released November 11th, 2022, the movie that was supposed to usher in Bruce Willis’ retirement was helmed by Chuck Russell, who also directed The Mask and Collateral. In addition, the film was scripted by experienced screenwriters Corey Large and Edward John Drake. It’s unclear where exactly it all went wrong, as Willis’ acting certainly wasn’t the problem. However, Paradise City was largely unsuccessful. Here’s how the movie was set up to bring Bruce Willis’ career to a bombastic close, but why it ultimately failed a big screen legend.

Paradise City Was A Classic Bruce Willis Setup

Willis is known for his quippy, tough-guy roles in crime films, and Paradise City was supposed to be a testament to the type of role Bruce Willis built his career on. The actor’s trademark character began on the TV show Moonlighting in the late 80s when he played a wise-cracking private investigator. It was his role as smart-aleck, action hero John McClane in the Die Hard franchise, however, that truly created his legacy. From there, Willis’ hitlist includes a collection of roles that mostly serve as iterations of McClane, like Butch Coolidge in Pulp Fiction, the voice of Mickey the wise-cracking baby in Look Who’s Talking and its sequel, Harry Stamper in Armageddon, Korben Dallas in The Fifth Element, and a stoic turn as the ghost, Malcolm Crowe, in The Sixth Sense.

Set in Hawaii, Paradise City looked like a great opportunity for Willis to do what he does best. The film was described (via Deadline) as “similar to Miami Vice (which Willis also appeared in) but with bounty hunters instead of cops” and saw Bruce Willis as Ryan Swan, a man bent on revenge. Swan’s objective was to fight his way through the Hawaiian crime world to find and kill the crime lord that murdered his father. And while the description of Paradise City alone seemed to have the potential to be the perfect final role before Bruce Willis’ retirement, the movie did not do him, nor the character, justice. Paradise City also starred his old co-star John Travolta, bringing Willis’ career full circle before its conclusion.

Bringing Willis And Travolta Back Together Was Highly Anticipated

While Willis and Travolta’s first film credit is Look Who’s Talking in 1989, the film left little opportunity for shared screen time as Willis’ role was a voiceover. It was Quentin Tarantino’s cult classic Pulp Fiction in 1994 that truly gave Willis and Travolta the opportunity to work together. Paradise City saw the reunion of the two legendary actors in a pairing that stands as a testament to what could arguably be considered the highest point of Willis’ career.

In addition to the epic reunion of Willis and Travolta, Paradise City was written by Corey Large, who had been angling toward getting Willis and Travolta back on screen together for over 15 years. While it’s telling that he was involved in several of Willis’ recent unsuccessful films, Large’s quest boded well for Paradise City, suggesting that he is a fan of Willis and Travolta’s previous collaboration in Pulp Fiction, and he worked to create the same chemistry seen nearly 30 years ago. Unfortunately, it was all for naught.

Bruce Willis Last Movie Should Have Been Better

One need only to look at the reviews for Paradise City to see that it was an unfortunate last outing before Bruce Willis’ retirement. Paradise City opened to staggeringly negative reviews, with the film sitting at 3.6 stars out of 10 on IMDb and a horrible 8% critics score on the review aggregator site Rotten Tomatoes. Many of the reviews point the finger at the story and the stakes, rather than the cast themselves. Paradise City was overrun with genre tropes and clichés. As well, the tension in the movie fell flat at numerous points, with expository-heavy scenes taking the front seat, and action sitting passively in the back.

Outside the cast, the only thing that was praised in Paradise City was the setting of Hawaii. At the end of the day, Die Hard actor Bruce Willis didn’t deserve to go out on Paradise City being his final note. The movie’s failures weren’t the result of its cast, and ultimately the film did Willis a huge disservice. After a decades-long successful acting career, Bruce Willis deserved better than what Paradise City gave him.

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