October 11, 2010

Bourne Free

So Tony Gilroy, the talented screenwriter who scripted the three Bourne films and wrote and directed the excellent Michael Clayton and the not-so-excellent Duplicity will serve double duty on the  upcoming fourth Bourne film, The Bourne Legacy.   This was heralded as good news last week when the news broke because the previous incarnation of the  fourth installment fell apart back in 2008 over scripting issues and ultimately director Paul Greengrass left the project to focus on other things which was closely followed by Matt Damon announcing he wouldn't make another Bourne without Greengrass, putting the franchise at a standstill.  When Damon issued his "Not Without My Greengrass" plea, he was careful to not rule out eventually returning to the franchise, so It was assumed with Tony Gilroy taking the reigns - with his history with the series and with Damon - might lure Damon back.   Well, it turns out this will be a Bourne-free Bourne Legacy.

Fear not,  they are not re-casting the part.   Jason Bourne will not appear in the film despite his name appearing in the title for the movie.   This should go right up there in the Movie False Advertising Hall of Fame with  and Van Wilder 2: The Rise of Taj -   a film that didn't have Van Wilder in it at all, yet used his name in the title.  Gilroy who I'm sure was acutely aware of the internet rumors that Damon might return with him signing on to helm was quick to respond.  "No one is replacing Matt Damon.  There will be a new hero, a whole new chapter.... this is a stand-alone project."   Really?   The fourth entry to a successful film series is a "stand alone project."  I beg to differ... this is clearly a film being made to keep the franchise alive in the event that Damon and likely Greengrass opt to return to the series.  Gilroy goes on to say "This is not a reboot or a recast or a prequel.  The easiest way to think of it is as an expansion.  Jason Bourne will not be in this film, but he's very much alive."   This just seems... cheap.   It also seems beneath Gilroy who I was very excited about after I saw Michael Clayton at the Toronto International Film Festival a couple of years back but have since tempered my enthusiasm after seeing the lousy Duplicity - a movie that thinks it's much more clever than it really is -  and then learning that he's opted for this cheesy effort as his next project.   It's also worth northing that despite using the title of the fourth 'Bourne' book, The Bourne Legacy, (which wasn't written by series creator Robert Ludlum) this scirpt will have nothing to do with that novel. It's been obvious for the better part of a decade now that the Hollywood studios are being run by marketers, and frankly, nothing really surprises me anymore, but the Bourne series was always a critical and audience favorite, and I naively thought they were above a blatant cash in like this.  "Jason Bourne's activities in the first three films are the immediate trigger.  The world we're making enhances and invites Jason Bourne's return."   Gee, really Tony?  So this whole effort is just a stepping stone for the real cash in, when Matt Damon returns?  Sounds like The Bourne Placeholder and brings back band memories of U.S. Marshalls the limp sequel to The Fugitive that was just missing one thing: Harrison Ford.   (Though if anyone could make you forget about Harrison Ford, it would be the always delightful Wesley Snipes, who, amazingly, wasn't able to elevate that ill-fated follow-up.)  This whole situation  kinda makes me wish I  had amnesia.  Unless, of course, they cast Wesley Snipes as the "new" Bourne.  Then I'm totally in.

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