Remember how last year Jeremy Renner was everywhere, trying to be a movie star, and that the centerpiece of his campaign was a Bourne movie that didn’t star Jason Bourne? Well, the strategy kinda sorta worked. The movie, The Bourne Legacy (aka the non-Bourne Bourne), did well enough to barely justify a sequel, and Renner got just enough traction to get a passion project off the ground (next year’s Kill the Messenger), but almost every major movie he has coming up is a sequel to a previous entry in his would-be movie star resume. 2015 will be another big year for Renner, with sequels to Bourne, The Avengers and Mission: Impossible slated for release.
Once again, the one Renner has to carry is Bourne. And once again, it’s the biggest gamble on his roster. Legacy worked well enough, but the movie left a lot of questions—so many it borders on narratively lazy—chief among which is, what is the value of a Bourne franchise with no Bourne? I like Renner, and I liked Legacy, but all I really cared about when it was over was seeing Renner’s Aaron Cross throw down against Matt Damon as Jason Bourne. And the likelihood of that happening is slim. Like, REALLY SLIM.
Universal Studios has committed to an August 14, 2015 release for the next as-yet untitled Bourne installment (The Bourne Infinity?). I detest this growing trend of announcing release dates so far in advance—the least little thing goes wrong and sets it back, no matter how mundane the issue, and everyone panics (see also: Star Wars Episode VII). They do it to increase investor confidence, but then investor confidence nosedives every time a previously announced date has to be pushed back. It’s a moronic cycle that is easily broken by simply not issuing a press release every time a line producer says, “I think we can get this done by X date.”
But they’re in it now, pressing onward to meet their (stupidly) rigid release date. Director Tony Gilroy, whose presence in the franchise was one of the biggest roadblocks in getting Matt Damon back, is out, replaced by Justin Lin, who revitalized the Fast & Furious franchise. Undoubtedly Universal is hoping he can work that magic twice and make the non-Bourne Bourne more of a going concern. But the bulk of the pressure rests on Renner’s shoulders (again). He’s getting a Mulligan on his banner year, and this time, he’s got to make it stick a little better than he did the first time.
Attached – Renner with Bradley Cooper and Amy Pascal at the American Hustle screening this weekend.