Bruce Willis unplugs from a cybernetic utopia to crack some skulls and kick some ass in Surrogates, director Jonathan Mostow's big-screen sci-fi comic book adaptation, opening everywhere today. Willis plays an FBI agent investigating a murder in a world where people live vicariously through well-preserved – and sometimes just plain creepy -- robot avatars. While on the case, he uncovers a conspiracy that, if you believe the trailer, threatens to cripple the entire world.
Of course, this isn't the first time ol' Bruno has been tapped to save the world in a big-budget sci-fi actioneer -- he does it all the time. To celebrate his return to our beloved genre, we present the Top 5 Sci-Fi Heroes Played By Bruce Willis. Yippee-ki-yay, motherfracker!
5. Harry Stamper, Armageddon
Sure, critics called Michael Bay's 1998 end-of-the-world action flick brainless, senseless and bloated (and those were the ones who liked it), but Willis instills some heart amid all the gloss and fireworks as a hard ass oil driller tasked with saving the planet from a giant meteor. Harry Stamper is no John McClane, but Willis manages to turn the character into a lovable and noble SOB who makes the ultimate sacrifice to save the world.
4. Korben Dallas, The Fifth Element
Now this is more like it. A bleach blond Willis looks like he's having a blast in Luc Besson's flamboyant, dizzying and totally rock 'n' roll sci-fi epic. Dallas is a down and out schlep who, as luck would have it, happens to be a former military man with special training in the art of how to save the world. This is a good thing, since Gary Oldman's Ross Perot-like baddie plans to destroy all life with the help of a big, unstoppable force. Dallas finds his inner bad ass once again thanks to the arrival of Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), a perfect and beautiful being who inspires him to charge up the ol' ray gun and blast evil right between the eyes.
3. Hartigan, Sin City
Some folks might not consider the hard-boiled Hartigan a "sci-fi" hero, but there's definitely something otherworldly going on with him. The guy gets shot more times than all of Willis' other characters combined, and he lives to save the girl, plus castrate and kill the Yellow Bastard responsible for his incarceration. Did I mention he has a heart condition too? Because he does. Plus, he's like 150 years old at the end of the movie, when most of the action takes place. He finally succumbs to his wounds, but only after taking a beating that would've made Superman throw in the towel. Hartigan might not be the most popular sci-fi hero Willis has ever played, but he just might be the toughest.
2. David Dunn, Unbreakable
Before M. Night Shyamalan cracked us up with his most recent comedy, The Happening, he directed this great, downbeat but wholly engaging flick about a regular guy who turns out to be a superhero. Dunn lacks the flash and punchy one-liners of Willis' other notable good guys, but the quiet role allowed Willis to re-establish himself as a talented dramatic actor in an unusually emotional Hollywood blockbuster.
1. James Cole, Twelve Monkeys
Willis delivers one of his most gripping performances ever in Terry Gilliam's mind-blowing sci-fi classic. Gilliam's arresting visual style and dense storytelling got all the press when Twelve Monkeys hit theaters back in 1995, but Willis grounds the often erratic film as a bruised up time-traveling mental patient with a loose grip on reality. James Cole is definitely the most troubled soul on this list, which makes his transformation from babbling hobo to slumping savior feel more rewarding.