Universal Pictures via Everett Collection
We might have to wait a little longer for the next installment in the Jason Bourne franchise, but if the rumors are true, it might just be worth the wait. Tentative reports over at Latino Review say that the reason that the fifth Bourne movie was moved from its original August 2015 release date to one in July 2016 is because director Justin Lin is planning to bring back Jason Bourne himself: Matt Damon. Though the actor and national treasure has long said that he wouldn’t reprise the role without director Paul Greengrass on board, it seems that the revised script by Andrew Baldwin might have been enough to get him to change his mind.
The site also states that Damon might be considering a return to the Bourne franchise as a way of bouncing back from recent poor box office performance, but considering that both Elysium and The Monuments Men did reasonably well, we think Damon’s still got what it takes to open a blockbuster. So, if Damon is looking to return, it seems more likely that his motivation is love of the character, rather than kick starting his career, which means that the real question isn’t whether Damon will make another Bourne movie. The real question is whether or not he should.
There’s no denying that another Damon-fronted Bourne film would be exciting. Though The Bourne Legacy did its best to tell a new, interesting story, Damon is really the heart of the franchise. Without him as the lead, the films fall apart. Plus, Damon’s involvement with the new film would ensure that every single detail would be on point, since there’s no way that he would ever sign on for another Bourne adventure unless both the script and vision met the high bar set by the first three. It’s always rare to get a smart, well-crafted action film – let alone a trilogy! – but since Damon delivered them with the Bourne trilogy, it’s basically a guarantee that we’d have another exciting, high-quality blockbuster ready to hit theaters.
But even though moviegoers might want one, Damon doesn’t need to make another Bourne movie. Elysium and The Monuments Men might not have done as well as predicted, but they were still very successful films, and his name still has a great impact on box office results. His career isn’t in a slump, and he’s got a few high-profile projects lined up, including The Martian, a Whitey Bulger biopic that he is producing with Ben Affleck, a role in Interstellar, and several big television projects. He has more than enough interesting, original works lined up to keep him busy, and allow him to explore other creative endeavors like writing and producing.
Part of the reason that Damon has been able to have such a successful career is because he chooses diverse projects. Sure, he made three Bournes and three Ocean’s movies, but he followed each of them up with films that allowed him to play a completely different role. It wouldn’t make sense for him to now backtrack and go back to playing Jason Bourne now that he’s spent so much time and had so much success exploring different types of characters. Besides, Damon would be 45 by the time filming begins. If the fifth Bourne is a success, the studio will probably want him back for a sixth. That’s a long time to be tied to a franchise, and even though it’s not as intimidating as Affleck’s proposed tenure as Batman, it’s still going to interfere with a lot of the projects he has lined up.
In the end, the Bourne franchise needs Damon much more than he need to step back into Jason Bourne’s shoes. He’s still one of the biggest stars in the world, still carrying major films to success and he’s still the most well-liked man in Hollywood. As much as we’d love to see more of Jason Bourne, Damon will be just fine if he stays away. At this point, that’s probably his best move. After all, if things ever do go downhill for him, he can just reboot it as an older-man action franchise, like Liam Neeson and Bruce Willis. They seem to be doing pretty well for themselves.