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When we heard that Tony Gilroy would be writing and directing the fourth Bourne film, called The Bourne Legacy, a lot of quesitons came to mind. Chief among them was whether Matt Damon might return as titular hero Jason Bourne.

Now Mr. Gilroy has cleared up some of the lingering questions, and put right a few details he didn’t think were properly reported in the first place. One big point is that there will be no Jason Bourne, and consequently no Matt Damon in the new film.

Tony Gilroy called Jeff Wells and told him a couple of key points. First up, while The Bourne Legacy is the title of one of the Bourne novels (though not an original Robert Ludlum one), the film will not follow that book’s story. And this is not a reboot, nor does it invalidate or contradict the story presented in the three existing films.

Mr. Gilroy told Jeff Wells:

It’s a completely original screenplay….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.

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].

The promise of this film, the director says, is showing “the bigger canvas” of the world in which Jason Bourne exists, and that those who paid attention to small details in the other three films will be rewarded for doing so.

Setting aside the fact that there’s an attempt here to leave things open for Matt Damon to return (a smart move, it goes without saying) this seems like a reasonable way to continue the series with a new actor. I’m happy to hear that the espionage angle may be emphasized here — will this be less of an action film than the first Bourne movies?

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