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Matt Damon, The Boy Who Cried Jason Bourne (Again)

by Edward Davis
May 5, 2014 1:57 PM
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Bourne Ultimatum

Never say never, never say die. If you’re keeping score like we have—or feel obligated to do so—you’ll know Matt Damon keeps playing with our heart and toying with our emotions. The actor has essentially said, Jason Bourne is done, the character has finished his arc, and he’s even talked smack about the screenwriter Tony Gilroy and then quickly retracted it.

When Paul Greengrass walked away from the series after “The Bourne Ultimatum,” Damon walked too. But because he’s a nice guy and because the media keeps asking, Damon has been far less resolute about the fate of Jason Bourne returning to the series as played by Matt Damon. He’s basically left the ball in Paul Greengrass’ court and said, if he does it, I’ll do it (though knowing fully well that he and Greengrass already tried to make a fourth ‘Jason Bourne’ film and then walked away from it when they couldn’t come up with a good enough idea to keep the story going). But very recently he’s also suggested since there is a new ‘Bourne’ series with Jeremy Renner as the lead, they don’t really need his character anymore. He even punctuated that comment, saying the events of the “The Bourne Legacymade it difficult for his character to even ever return (2013 reports that Paul and he were returning to the series proved to be false).

So after a lot of maybes and “if” we had a good script, Damon seemed to be finally putting a definitive no on ‘Bourne.’ But another day, another feeling. Damon recently talked to CNBC and kept the door open again in the same manner he always has: he’s open to it if Paul returns, if we have a good script, etc.

“I’ve always been open to it if Paul Greengrass is the director and … we’ve just never been able to come up with a story,” he explained yet again. "It felt like such a good way to end it the last time, but having said that I love that character… and I’d love to see what happened to him." In short, well, don’t hold your breath unless Greengrass and Damon really need a hit badly and change their minds. Greengrass has moved on to other things and as long as Damon puts his participation in the series on Greengrass (who swears he’ll never make another one) that’s really the perfect scapegoat reason for him never to return.

But as we know, never say never. Maybe one day 'Bourne' series producer Frank Marshall will fulfill his "dream" of a Bourne film that stars both Renner and Damon. In the meantime, thanks to the only so-so success of “The Bourne Legacy,” Universal has taken the franchise in an anti-auteur driven direction (aka, let's finally make some real money off this thing): Justin Lin of “Fast & Furious 6is directing, Anthony Peckham (“Sherlock Holmes”) is writing the screenplay, and ‘Bourne’ screenwriting architect Tony Gilroy has also moved on. If these two new filmmakers feel very un-‘Bourne’ to you, well you’d be right to feel that way. You’ll find out in the summer of 2015.

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  • Juno Igotit | May 8, 2014 2:28 AMReply

    It's a nice way to earn a living and it's going to be better because expectation will dictate policy, I don't suspect any less than everything and that's what it will be- anyway build it they will come the franchise is a cash machine - no one on the planet can produce those numbers but Damon- you'll see Jason Bourne again and he doesn't disappoint. The gauntlet has been thrown down once again. All non believers remember you were warned!

  • Paris | May 7, 2014 12:33 PMReply

    Legacy jumped the shark. Done with it.

  • No clippers | May 7, 2014 8:36 AMReply

    This quote from the CNBC interview with Damon is THE reason why the first three movies were good:

    "I had just as many concerns as anybody about doing an action move. In fact, I never signed up for three Bourne movies, I signed up for one, because I didn't even know if I'd like to make an action movie…but it turned out that I loved it."

    He signed up for one at a time so if the studio changed leadership and quality left the series he could leave too. And that's what he did. Smart guy, Damon.

  • Saxxon | May 7, 2014 4:14 AMReply

    If they can't come up with a good story, screenplay and movie with not just the oringal assets but Renner's side arc as well they are incompetent. Bond's been giong for 50 years, ask the Brits to give you a hand...

    Seriously, Renner's character left off essentially in mid-stride escaping from pursuit leaving an obvious sequel opening. Once he closes that down, you can't tell me a decent writer can't create and arc bringing both characters together as enemies or allies (or both during the course of it).

    If you ever watched a clip of Matt Damon being Matt Damon expounding on his love for Dear Leader Obama, you'd understand where the vapidity comes from (apparently he's flip-flopped on this more recently, unsurprising from a liberal tool).

    On You Tube watch?v=EyLafU0OEY0

    Just imagine the circus calliope music playing as he tries to go on about the rich, of which he is one while ignoring the many ways he and every other person like him structures their financial matters to avoid paying more taxes (when they say "he" made X million on a movie, its his production company that does, of which a lot of it gets written off).

  • cary | May 6, 2014 3:43 AMReply

    I won't be surprised if Damon comes back to the franchise for next installments. He had series of boxoffice disappointments since Ultimatum. Another Bourn movie might help him to do more interesting non-Bourne films.

  • Da Tre | May 6, 2014 12:08 PM

    Elysium, the last movie he made that rested solely on him, made $286 million world wide. I don't think he's worried.

  • Bella | May 6, 2014 2:09 AMReply

    I think Damon needs to stop talking. Legacy was an ok film and Renner did a good job, that is not just my view it is the rotten tomatoes consensus. Considering the reviews I think the box office was actually good and shows people were open to change. If the next one has good reviews I think people will come anyway, but set it in Asia, add Lin's fans and following the next Avengers film in which Renner will have a much bigger part, the film could be huge. At that point would Universal be that interested in Damon? He has said he is not interested in integrating with the new stories/characters so will they throw all that away to accommodate Damon? It will also be nearly 10 years since Ultimatum, would he be up to it?

  • Ridgely | May 7, 2014 9:41 AM

    Legacy is rotten on rotten tomatoes, and the film itself sucks, which will have consequences for the next movie's audience. The reason the first three were so big was because audiences loved the character, and nobody loves Renner's character, whatever his name was. He was a joke with his chems, And an older Bourne would be even more interesting for the audience, where did he go, what did he do? If age disqualified there would be no Liam Neeson. That guys in his 60's.

  • Sombrero | May 5, 2014 11:19 PMReply

    I enjoyed Renner in Bourne Legacy, and I'd hope to see him in the next entry, but this is with the hope that they actually enrich his character in the way they need to keep the series compelling. Peckham is a good writer and Lin knows how to shoot an action movie, unlike Tony Gilroy, but whether or not they're bourne-material...well, we'll see. I agree that Damon needs a damn good reason to return though, his story was pretty much wrapped before.

  • Dan | May 5, 2014 3:50 PMReply

    The Bourne Legacy was a disaster, a completely redundant film. Bourne is going to turn into another Die Hard, where the only reason to make them is to make money. I'm out.

  • Exclusionary | May 5, 2014 2:26 PMReply

    Just like I said. Once Damon left, it was inevitably going to turn into a crapfest. I hate studios.

  • Gen | May 6, 2014 12:40 PM


    Ultimatum was the last of the trilogy and made about $450 million, which is really where the box office comparison should be made. Adjusted for inflation, Legacy made as much as Identity, although Legacy cost hugely more. So it was much less profitable. And it relied on Damon's character as it's primary selling feature. Jason Bourne had more screen time in the commercials than Renner's sorry character did. The studio knows it's on to a loser, which is why so many changes are being made.

    I just wish they would respect what they have, and not turn it into garbage. Yes, they will still have an audience, just a much smaller one. You can fool some of the people all of the time, I suppose. That's the target audience now. And if they have no respect for their intended audience and don't care if they make crap, then crap is inevitably what they will make. I expect it. It just makes me sad. If they had even a tiny creative spark, why wouldn't they come up with a story or director that would entice Damon? Because it's easier to make crap.

  • Jaxx | May 6, 2014 12:22 AM


    Similarly, Damon's sci-fi movie failed to gross as much as Renner's reboot on the domestic end, which is much more valuable than the international box office, and in spite of Damon's established star power, a strong marketing campaign, and a heavy association with the massive-success that was District 9. Doesn't mean Legacy was, therefore, a masterpiece, but it is to say Damon's biggest and best box office entries since Ultimatum have only faired about as well as Renner's lukewarm reboot, who was still fairly unproven when it debuted. It also means that the disappointment that was Elysium is not the best of Damon's movies to use as a baseline for success in this context.

    If I recall correctly, Universal set from the start that Legacy would get a sequel if it matched or out-grossed the total take of Identity, which it did (so Legacy is also not 'by far' the lowest grossing, nor 'mostly shunned' by people who 'saw' through their campaign either; it actually did just-well-enough, if not just-adequate). This means we can blame the studio for setting that number prior to release and going forth with a sequel regardless of whatever the reviews were and how fans felt, or the general audience for going out and filling their quota. You can get a little chicken-and-the-egg with it, but truth be told, Universal sold a film they thought at-least-X-people would see, which they did; basically, I side with the fault of the studio. Not saying I'm thrilled with this either, but just that Universal really did get what it was gambling for here, which means there is an audience that buys into these films that die-hard Bourne-fans might resent as a result. Maybe we will be surprised with the next entry with something of greater substance. If not, we can all make the move towards Slovenian cinema in protest.

  • Adam | May 5, 2014 11:15 PM

    Go ahead and hate me along with the rest of the audience, 'cause I'll inevitably be seeing the next one. They've got me. I'd watch the Bourne-saga characters take a knitting class for two hours; I'd even feel satisfied so long as they ended it with yet another re-cut of that Moby song.

  • Gen | May 5, 2014 6:58 PM

    Why should people hate audiences? In fact, audiences demonstrated that they wouldn't be fooled by making Legacy by far the lowest grossing of the Bourne movies (in spite of deliberately deceptive commercials which attempted to make it appear as if Damon was in the movie). But people saw through that and mostly shunned it. Legacy made less internationally than Damon's sci-fi movie of last year, in spite of the fact that it was pre-sold world wide. Studios always have a choice to try to make something good and original or to make something trite and dumbed down. The reason the trilogy remains so influential was that the creative team succeeded at the former, instead of the latter.

  • James | May 5, 2014 3:01 PM

    You should hate the audiences, they pay to see it. If three hour black and white experimental arthouse films in Slovenian made big money, the studios would fill the multiplexes with them.

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