Bourne 4 gains director, to replace lead?
The fourth Bourne film, which I hear is tentatively titled The Bourne Legacy, has just appointed a director, Tony Gilroy, the man who wrote the screenplays for the franchise as well as a number of other huge scripts, and directed Michael Clayton and Duplicity (Filmstalker review).
He's certainly proven he can write an excellent thriller and bring it to the screen as director, so it'll be great to see what he brings to the visuals of the Bourne films. That means we have a script, a director, but still no leading actor. This is where the story gets interesting, because it appears the studio might replace Matt Damon.
Matt Damon has always said that he wouldn't return to the franchise without Paul Greengrass, although as I've always pointed out, Greengrass wasn't the first director on Bourne it was Doug Liman, so there's no reason for him to be the last.
However Deadline Hollywood Daily say that Greengrass left the fourth production after the studio started developing the film without him as he worked with Damon on their Bourne in Iraq film Green Zone (Filmstalker review), which was good and definitely had tons of Bourne in there.
So it would appear that the studio were keen to press ahead without Greengrass and Damon from the beginning so why wouldn't they consider replacing them both? This is the second change of director on the franchise and so why couldn't it be the first actor change? Can we take it as an audience? I think the studio believes we can, and perhaps Gilroy does too.
In an offhand comment the article says:
I'm told that Universal plans to make the film even if it has to replace Damon...
He would be crazy not to keep going with the franchise and get the easy money, but at the same time he's a strong actor who is more than capable and could, and perhaps should, pursue something different other than the franchise character he is so easily associated with.
I think Tony Gilroy is a good choice for the film, and I think his two directed films to date have been good, although they have both shared some problems. He would be the logical choice being so close to the material and the franchise already.
The big question is would you buy a new Bourne? Of course with a title like Legacy it could suggest that the script itself drops the Bourne character. From the Cambridge dictionary Legacy means:
...something that is a part of your history or which stays from an earlier time.
Could it be what Bourne has left? An old agency opened up with agents like him free on the open market? Or perhaps the agency starts up again after it's been exposed to the government? Who knows, but the name does imply that it could be a clean start.