Sep 3, 2015

Tradecraft: Vincent Cassel to Menace Jason Bourne, Plus Details on the Sequel's Story

Variety reports that French star Vincent Cassel (Agents Secrets, Ocean's 12) has signed on to play an assassin on the trail of Matt Damon's Jason Bourne in Paul Greengrass's new, still untitled Bourne sequel. Presumably, this is the same role that Viggo Mortensen was previously rumored for. It sure would be great if he turned out to be a version of the primary antagonist from Robert Ludlum's books, Carlos, but that seems unlikely. The casting (so far uniformly excellent) certainly seems to indicate that everything is falling into the usual, formulaic places for the film series. Cassel will be the latest in a line of tough assassins to go after Bourne, following in the footsteps of Clive Owen, Karl Urban and Edgar Ramirez. The previously announced Tommy Lee Jones, similarly, fits right in with the numerous tough guys emeritus to play bureaucrats from the CIA who have chased Bourne before (including Chris Cooper, Brian Cox, David Straithairn and Joan Allen).

However, Damon recently indicated to Buzzfeed (via Dark Horizons) that it's not just business as usual. His Bourne hasn't been seen since 2007 (Jeremy Renner played a different graduate of the same elite government assassin program in 2012's The Bourne Legacy), and it turns out there's a reason for that, in the actor's mind. "We always looked at those movies as really about the Bush presidency," he said, "and so we kind of had to wait for the world to change. What does the character have to say?" It was Edward Snowden's whistleblowing and the renewed debate about security versus privacy that gave Damon and director Greengrass (no stranger to whistleblowers, having coauthored the notorious MI5 tell-all Spy Catcher with Peter Wright in the Eighties) the answer they were looking for. Buzzfeed points out that it may have actually been Senator John McCain who gave them the notion, when he said in 2013 that Snowden was seen by young Americans as "some sort of Jason Bourne." So... not going back to the books, then?

Damon said, "Without giving too much of it away, it’s Bourne through an austerity-riddled Europe and in a post-Snowden world. It seems like enough has changed, you know? There are all these kinds of arguments about spying and civil liberties and the nature of democracy." The locations also reflect very contemporary issues. The new movie starts off in Greece in the midst of its economic turmoils, and ends in Las Vegas. And, if previous reports are true, along the way Jason Bourne will be visiting the Canary Islands, with five weeks of production scheduled in Tenerife, the largest island. The film commences shooting this month.

Alicia Vikander (The Man From U.N.C.L.E.) and Julia Stiles (reprising her role from previous Bourne movies) also star. Greengrass, who helmed The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum as well as the underrated Green Zone with Damon, will direct from a script he wrote with Christopher Rouse (who edited Greengrass's two previous Bourne movies) after concocting the story with Damon. Damon and Greengrass are also producing, alongside franchise newcomer Gregory Goodman (X-Men: First Class) and Bourne veterans Frank Marshall and Jeffrey Weiner, of Captivate Entertainment, rights-holders of the Robert Ludlum library. The film is slated to open on July 29, 2016.

Read my review of Paul Greengrass's The Bourne Ultimatum here.
Read my review of Tony Gilroy's The Bourne Legacy here.
Read my review of the 1988 miniseries of The Bourne Identity here.
Read my review of Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne Identity here.
Read my review of Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne Supremacy here.
Read my review of Robert Ludlum's novel The Bourne Ultimatum here

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