The Bourne Legacy, the long-gestating fourth installment in Universal’s popular spy franchise, finally started gaining traction last week when it was announced that Tony Gilroy had signed on to direct the film.

Gilroy wrote all three previous Bourne films and was hired back in June to write a new script for the latest entry. The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass decided early on he wasn’t interested in carrying on with the series and without him calling the shots, star Matt Damon threatened to jump ship as well.

Some predicted that The Bourne Legacy might be a prequel or a reboot while others suggested that the series could simply continue on with a new actor in the lead role. Well, Gilroy recently spoke with Hollywood Elsewhere to clarify whether or not Damon will be involved and to explain how his film will tie-in with its predecessors.

Unfortunately for fans, it seems Damon is definitely not returning.  However, they’re not recasting the part either. Gilroy explains:

“This is not a reboot or a recast or a prequel. No one’s replacing Matt Damon. There will be a whole new hero, a whole new chapter… this is a stand-alone project.”

He also confirms that while The Bourne Legacy borrows its title from a novel by Eric Lustbader, it’s a completely original story. So how exactly does he justify keeping the name Bourne in the title when the character isn’t in the film?

Although it’s not a particularly satisfying course of action, my initial assumption was that the Jason Bourne alias would simply be passed on to a different operative. Apparently, that’s not the case:

“The easiest way to think of it is an expansion or a reveal … Jason Bourne will not be in this film, but he’s very much alive. What happened in the first three films is the trigger for what happens. I’m building a legend and an environment and a wider conspiracy…the world we’re making enhances and advances and invites Jason Bourne’s return [down the road].”

Matt Damon as he will NOT appear in 'The Bourne Legacy'

I’m not sure how I feel about The Bourne Legacy acting as a cinematic placeholder while Damon decides if he’s ever going to play the part again, but Gilroy does make it sound like there is a very deliberate and calculated trajectory for the future of this franchise:

“Everything you saw in the first three films actually happened, and everyone who got into will be rewarded for paying attention. We’re going to show you the bigger picture, the bigger canvas. When you see what we’re going and see what we’re doing it’ll be pretty obvious.”

It’s a somewhat unexpected move, but perhaps Gilroy realized what a monumental task it would have been to recast that role. As interesting as this approach sounds, I just can’t get over the fact that they’re about to make a Bourne movie without Jason Bourne. Still, this is a safe way to preserve the closure of Ultimatum and deliver a film that’s equal parts sequel and spin-off.

I’m not sure how necessary another Bourne movie really is, but Gilroy is the sole factor preventing me from being totally dismissive of this project. I’m incredibly curious to see how he adapts his own screenplay and I’m confident that he’s capable of delivering something unique and relevant while still respecting the other films in the franchise.

And then I go right back to thinking that this is a Bourne film without Jason Bourne. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

What are your thoughts on Gilroy’s approach to The Bourne Legacy?

Source: Hollywood Elsewhere.