Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman began a new age of covert agent movies with 2002′s The Bourne Identity. In the wake of the increasingly-silly Pierce Brosnan-era James Bond films, Liman’s initial go at the character – created by novelist Robert Ludlum – starred Matt Damon as an amnesiac special operative, who exploree his unexpected skill-set while attempting to regain his life and identity. Damon went on to headline two blockbuster sequels – Supremacy and Ultimatum - both directed by Paul Greengrass (Captain Phillips), which eschewed Identity‘s sense of heightened reality for a “gritty” and “grounded” tone augmented by Greengrass’ patented shaky-cam.
All three installments were written by Michael Clayton writer-director Tony Gilroy, who stepped in to helm the Damon-less sequel/reboot/spinoff The Bourne Legacy, which starred Jeremy Renner as a genetically-enhanced renegade super spy named Aaron Cross. Legacy debuted to mixed reviews and while it made money overseas, it couldn’t break even here in the States. Still, Universal has officially set an August 2015 release date for Bourne 5 (a.k.a. Untitled Jason Bourne Sequel), with Fast & Furious 6‘s Justin Lin set to direct.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Tony Gilroy is not returning to pen the screenplay, and now we have a report from THR naming Andrew Baldwin as the scribe who will take over the franchise storyline. An earlier draft of Bourne 5 was reportedly penned by Sherlock Holmes and Invictus screenwriter, Anthony Peckham.
While Baldwin has no produced credits, his spec script The West is Dead landed on the 2008 Black List and he’s been associated with several different projects since. He is probably best known as one of the many writers who have been hired to take a stab at the long-gestating Logan’s Run remake.
The Bourne 5 plot is still firmly under wraps at this point, and the big question is just how much – or how little – the next film will expand the universe-building of Legacy. For all its flaws, the introduction of Aaron Cross managed to move the overall story forward, with Renner proving himself a solid leading man even if his character was far less captivating than Jason Bourne.
Are domestic audiences really clamoring for more Aaron Cross? Matt Damon recently dropped broad hints that he’d be open to return if Greengrass did as well, but at the moment, Bourne 5 is strictly a Renner show, with Rachel Weisz’s potential return as Dr. Marta Shearing currently up in the air (although producer Frank Marshall expects her to be in involved in future installments).
With a new star and fresh talent behind the camera and keyboard, the promise of a whole new direction (staring with Bourne 5) could overall mean a bright future for the franchise, as long as the fans can be coaxed back.
One major positive aspect of of Bourne 5 is the forward momentum the series can now have, rather than having to fit somewhere into the storyline of past films, as Legacy did. Expect plot details to surface soon, since the new film will release in just over fifteen months – not so long after Renner reprises his other 2012 action hero persona, as Hawkeye in Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Bourne 5 is set for release on August 14th, 2015.