Oct 4, 2010

Tradecraft: Tony Gilroy To Direct Fourth Bourne Movie

Deadline reports that Tony Gilroy, who wrote or co-wrote all three Jason Bourne movies to date, will take the directing reins on the next film in the series. Bourne 4 is tentatively titled The Bourne Legacy, but seems unlikely to bear Eric Van Lustbader's continuation novel of that name any more resemblance than the existing movies to to Robert Ludlum's original novels.  Gilroy was hired to write the script in June, after two other writers, George Nolfi (who co-wrote The Bourne Ultimatum) and Josh Zetumer (who did uncredited script work on Quantum of Solace) had prevously developed "parallel scripts."  It's unclear whether anything from either of their drafts will be incorporated into Gilroy's.  Having worked on all the previous Bourne films and directed two critically acclaimed features of his own, Gilroy seems like an obvious choice to replace Paul Greengrass.  Greengrass brought an exciting new style to his first film in the franchise, The Bourne Supremacy, which (for better or for worse) changed the face of action filmmaking.  If The Bourne Supremacy was something of a laboratory for Greengrass to experiment with this style, he perfected it in The Bourne Ultimatum and his non-Bourne follow-up collaboration with Matt Damon, Green Zone.  However, while in post-production on Green Zone, Greengrass begged out of directing another Bourne movie.  Damon, in turn, very publicly stated that he wouldn't return to the franchise without Greengrass.  Gilroy, meanwhile (who is rumored to not get along with Greengrass, and vice versa), went off to direct Duplicity, a very entertaining spy caper that I never got around to properly covering here on the Double O Section.  Duplicity sadly tanked at the box office, but abely demonstrated that Gilroy has what it takes to make a good spy movie (particularly a fascination with tradecraft procedures) in a potentially very different style from that of Greengrass.  And after two quick-cut, shaky-cam movies, I think that's exactly what the franchise requires. 

Don't get me wrong: I believe Greengrass's action verite style was exactly right for the two films he directed, and, as I said, the results in The Bourne Ultimatum and Green Zone were nothing short of thrilling.  But while Greengrass has mastered that style, others have failed in trying to imitate him.  Marc Forster's disasterous attempt in Quantum of Solace should prove particularly instructive for Gilroy on what can happen when a director not experienced with action scenes to begin with attempts it.  Personally, I think that even though Greengrass redefined the genre on the second Bourne movie, what the franchise needs now is a new approach.  I hope Gilroy sticks to his own style rather than trying to emulate Greengrass's.  And I have a feeling he will. 

Of course, the other thing this franchise undeniably needs is Matt Damon.  He's said "never again" as many times as Sean Connery by now, displaying a similar disregard for the role that made him an action star.  Hopefully he'll see reason or dollar signs or both and decide to return to the part once again, Greengrass or not.  It's clear that Universal intends to proceed with or without him.  Let's hope it's with.

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