Story-wise, it would’ve made perfect sense to end the Bourne series after Jason Bourne’s arc came to a graceful end in 2007′s The Bourne Ultimatum. Money-wise, however, it’s another story. While all three films have done well at the box office, the Ultimatum blew the other two out of the water with a $442 million worldwide gross. There was simply no way Universal was going to let a franchise that lucrative lay fallow.
No matter, even, that star Matt Damon walked away in 2009. The studio just figured out that they could shift focus to a different character in the same universe, and Jeremy Renner was brought in to play the Bourne-esque non-Bourne figure Aaron Cross. We’ll find out next weekend how he does as the new face of the franchise, but in the meantime Funny or Die has something to say about the studio’s decision.
“He’s Matt Damon with a lower pay grade… and he’s really hot!” may not be a direct quote from a studio exec, but somehow I suspect it’s not that far off from the actual reasoning behind the choice to cast Renner. And I’m pretty sure a lot of audiences will be having a version of the same “Who is he?” conversation come next week.
I love Renner as much as the next person, but this video pinpoints exactly why I’m having trouble mustering up any enthusiasm for The Bourne Legacy. Rather than risk alienating the Bourne fans by offering something genuinely fresh, Legacy looks like an attempt to recreate the magic of the first three Bournes — starting with its new not-quite-Damon lead. Who, as the video points out, seems to have made big-budget action franchises something of a habit.
But perhaps that’s being too harsh. The Bourne Legacy won’t actually hit theaters until August 10, and there’s still every chance that Renner will make us fall in love with the universe all over again. Might as well hold out hope.