Veteran Director Won't Do “Bourne” Again

Greengrass drops out and Damon won't even commit to fourth film

Among all blockbuster Hollywood movie franchises, the “Bourne” movies stand alone.

There are no comic book characters in the “Bourne” movies. No animated squirrels. No jive-talking robots. It’s just the serialized story of a man trying to figure out who he is, and as he learns more and more about his past, wishes he wasn’t that person. There’s also lots of kickass action, and detailed location shots of cool cities like Moscow, Goa, and dozens of other places. It’s rare to see an action movie franchise that isn’t shot entirely on a green screen. But more than that, only the “Bourne” and Nolan-directed “Batman” films aspire to explore deeper, darker aspects of the human condition. It almost makes up for all the Moby music on the soundtrack. They’re franchise movies that seem to be made by adults, for adults. That rarely happens anymore.

Alas, the “Bourne” franchise, or at least the quality of it, may be in jeopardy. Yesterday, director Paul Greengrass, who helmed the last two “Bourne” films (including “The Bourne Supremacy,” which I’d argue is the best of the trilogy), announced that he would not be returning to direct the planned fourth installment, which Universal hopes to release in 2011. The studio has also hired new writer Josh Zetumer to pen the screenplay. According to The Hollywood Reporter:

August 20, 2009 Josh Zetumer has signed on to pen the fourth installment of Universal's "Bourne" movie series, writing what is being described as a parallel script. Writing two scripts, though rare, is not without precedent in the tentpole movie world. The Rise of the Silver Surfer and Wolverine are movies that had parallel scripts commissioned and sometimes had them combined.

And those two movies were so good! It gets worse. Matt Damon still hasn’t committed to star in the movie, but Universal would still go ahead with it anyway without him. According to Variety:

Universal could reboot the entire series from scratch with a new spy and director. The films were never closely tied to Ludlum's books and any future pics could take creative license as well with a new cast, characters and situations.

That’s true. Though I, for one, would not be all that jazzed to see Brett Ratner directing “The Bourne Radicalness” starring Robert Pattinson. Variety speculates that Tony Gilroy, who had a hand in writing all three Bourne movies, may be asked to direct this one (Gilroy also directed “Michael Clayton”). Let’s hope that’s the case, and that Damon decides to sign back on. Most every other movie franchise out there sucks. I’d hate to see the same thing become of the “Bourne” movies.

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