What's on Tap

What's on Tap

Review: The Expendables 2 vs. The Bourne Legacy

Posted August 20, 2012
Updated August 27, 2012

Over the last two weekends, the last of the “summer blockbusters” have been released. Two of these films, while in the same genre (action), take very different paths.

The Bourne Legacy takes the world of Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne character and hands the reins over to Jeremy Renner’s Aaron Cross - a government soldier mixed up in some international conspiracy.

The Expendables 2 follows a group of mercenaries led by Sly Stallone and co-staring almost every action star over the past 25 years.

And the winner of the action movie face-off?

I have to hand it to the old guard. I love Jeremy Renner, but the over-complicated plot of The Bourne Legacy can’t beat the crazy, over the top action and fun of The Expendables 2.

First, let’s talk about story. Honestly, neither film has a very good plot. The Bourne Legacy has the problem of being way too complicated. There were times when I had no idea who people where or what they were doing. The actors involved were all great. Edward Norton and Stacy Keach really do well as government officials having dramatic conversations. I just had no idea what they were talking about. The story jumps between three different main characters and in between the viewer gets lost. The writers try to simplify things toward the end almost as if they themselves had given up. The last 45 minutes of the movie is Jeremy Renner and Rachel Weisz being chased around the world but it is unclear exactly why.

The Expendables 2 isn’t a work of Shakespeare either. The film opens with almost 20 solid minutes of action so the story doesn’t even get started for a while. When it does, it’s your basic covert mission that goes wrong. After things go wrong, the main characters have some scores to settle and that’s it. A cut and paste story line from almost any action film starring any of the actors in the movie.

The difference in these two films really boils down to the action scenes themselves. The Bourne Legacy has very few real action scenes considering the film's 2 hour 15 minute run time. A couple of light survival scenes in the beginning and then one scene at the halfway mark and one scene at the end. The Bourne films are known for their brutal action scenes but these are probably the weakest of the series. The final action scene is a chase that goes on for far too long. Going light on action is a cardinal sin for an action movie.

The Expendables 2 on the other hand is almost non-stop action from start to finish. And it is on a grand scale. As I mentioned the opening 20 minutes is basically nothing but action. There is hardly any dialog and the little there is not important. The filmmakers on The Expendables 2 let you know from the very beginning that the film is going to be over the top and to just sit back and enjoy. Which I did. Any action movie fan will find lots of hidden winks and nods to the audience. Actors use lines from previous movies, fighting styles and weapons are linked to action movies past. There were all kind of different action scenes as well. Fast paced hand to hand fights, shoot outs, large explosions, chases, etc. A little bit of something for everyone.

In the end, I have to say I really only recommend The Expendables 2. It wasn’t perfect. It had some plot holes and the over the top nature of the film led to a couple cringe worthy moments, but overall it was really fun. Just don’t expect anything new. The Bourne Legacy took itself a little too seriously and was way too long. Both films were well made from a technical point of view. But I want to have fun at an action movie.

The Expendables 2
3 of 5 stars

The Bourne Legacy
2 of 5 stars

Did you see either of these films? 

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