By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist June 28, 2012 at 3:02PM
Gilroy's approach turned out to delve further into the machinations of the CIA and their secret Treadstone and Blackbriar programs, coming up with parallel schemes, one of which -- Operation Outcome -- is the focus of "The Bourne Legacy." As Gilroy says, "If you think of the first three Bourne films as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, then we're showing you Elsinore. So you thought you were seeing something that you weren't. What if there were a larger story? What if Treadstone weren't the only black-ops programme? I think that's a really promising idea." And Outcome isn't the only one introduced in the new film; others come up too, which may figure further into later sequels. Frank Marshall says "You see there are several different programmes in the movie with different skill sets. All possibilities are open."
One of the things that have set the original films apart is the complexity of the quote-unquote bad guys: almost all of the antagonists, from Chris Cooper in the original to Edgar Ramirez in the third, have their moments of sympathy -- they're not simply maniacs, but are fighting for a cause or following orders. And while Edward Norton's character, Ret. Colonel Ric Byer, described as "a puppet master," and the man tasked with tying up the loose ends of the secret ops, was said to be "a villain" in early trade reports, expect him to have more texture than that. Norton (in a rare blockbuster excursion) tells the magazine, "Tony hated it when people started publishing that I was the villain. Tony works in shades of grey and moral fog. It's too reductive to say 'villain.' I think he works in a more sophisticated way than that." Indeed, Gilroy sees a character as another manifestation of a theme that's run throughout the series. "One of the things that's always been fun about the Bourne series is that it's always been an expression of the fact that even when you think you're on the inside you can still be just a cog in a machine," he explained. "Then people start to realize that they've been co-opted and they begin to push back."
Jeremy Renner isn't worried about being in too many franchises.
After the success of "The Hurt Locker," Jeremy Renner suddenly became one of Hollywood's most in-demand leading men, signing on to several potential franchises in quick succession: "The Avengers," "Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol" and "Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters." Indeed, he was so busy that he initially wasn't thought to be a possibility for Bourne, with Joel Edgerton, Luke Evans, Anthony Mackie, Garrett Hedlund and Oscar Isaac among those who tested for the part. But as Gilroy says, "Jeremy wasn't on any of those 'available' lists until we got to the third wave. All of a sudden his name popped up, so Frank Marshall and I popped over to Berlin, where he was making 'Hansel & Gretel,' and we had dinner with him and showed him the script." Renner signed on, a little wary of carrying the series on his shoulders, but now he doesn't seem to be concerned about franchise-fatigue and clearly is just trying to enjoy the ride. "I stumbled across some really great pieces of cinema. I got really lucky," he said. "If we get to do another one of these, right on. If Tom wants me for another 'Mission,' I'm happy to do it... If 'Avengers 2' happens, awesome. If it doesn't, awesome. I'm not going to worry about what comes next. I'll just worry about talking to you right now. I could be dead by the time 'Avengers 2' comes around. Who knows? I don't want to be, but you know what I'm saying."