Universal was clever to keep the Bourne name in the title of the fourth instalment in the franchise. After Matt Damon’s Jason Bourne took a dive into the East River and swam off at the end of The Bourne Ultimatum, audiences who caught The Bourne Legacy at the weekend could have been forgiven for anticipating another serving of Damon leaping across rooftops and talking into his sleeve.
But Damon is no longer the star of the show; he made it clear several years ago that he would not return unless Paul Greengrass were to direct another episode – and that looked increasingly unlikely as time wore on. However, the essence of Bourne hangs over this excellent new story director by franchise screenwriter Tony Gilroy, who has taken a more expansive look at the spy world created by Robert Ludlum.
The new protagonist Aaron Cross, like Bourne, is also the product of a shadowy spy project and – here’s the killer – he’s portrayed by one of the most exciting actors on the rise today. Jeremy Renner is no spring chicken at 41 but ever since his stunning performance in The Hurt Locker, he’s been gathering momentum on the fringes. He played second fiddle to a reinvigorated Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and played Hawkeye in this year’s smash Avengers Assemble, even if it seemed like the part was bolted on after canny lobbying by his agent. The effect of both roles has been to allow Renner to percolate into the collective psyche. As a result I reckon most moviegoers heading in to The Bourne Legacy will have had a hunch who he was but wouldn’t have been able to put a name to the face. After watching this movie they will.
The .3m (£26m) opening weekend may be the second lowest in the franchise precisely because of the unfamiliarity factor, but strong word of mouth will allow The Bourne Legacy to stick around in the coming weeks. It won’t reach the 7m scored by Ultimatum (2007) or the 6m posted by Supremacy (2004), but episode four does indeed represent a new hope and should have the chops to overtake the 2m final gross of Identity, the first in the series back in 2002.
It’s a tricky thing to change direction in the middle of a franchise but kudos to Universal for having the guts to go with an actor who is not yet a household name. The one-shot in the US advertising materials was smartly done. Renner stands gun in hand as an overlay of black and grey horizontal panels partly obscures his face and torso. The title stacks up in the bottom left of the image, strong enough to stand out and remind audiences of the franchise. The effect is that, at a glance, you might think it’s Damon in the picture. Closer inspection reveals the identity of the new actor and this goes hand-in-hand with the tagline: There was never just one. It’s skillfully done and understated, rather like the tone of the franchise.
Casting Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in a comedy about rival political contenders sounds like timely stuff in this election year and by many accounts The Campaign is pretty funny. The Warner Bros comedy opened in second place on a highly creditable .4m. The Dark Knight Rises was dethroned after four weeks but it’s done well and sits on the cusp of 0m in the US and 0m worldwide.
Far more interesting is how Hope Springs will play out. Sony’s “dramedy” reunites Meryl Streep with David Frankel, who directed her in The Devil Wears Prada. Streep and Tommy Lee Jones tread carefully as a sexless couple who undergo marriage counselling. Steve Carell is the sympathetic relationship guru.
Hope Springs has grossed m after five days, which isn’t half bad considering the subject matter. It would appear to be a pet project for studio head Amy Pascal given the lack of easy sell, so it’s hard to predict which way it will go. The under-50s will have little to do with it, so all eyes will be on the older demographic. The movie arrives with awards potential and in a season that upon first glance might not be as strong for women as last year: Streep – the Eternal Contender (and current best lead actress Oscar holder for The Iron Lady) – could be back in contention again.
North American top 10, 10-12 Aug 2012
1 The Bourne Legacy, .3m
2 The Campaign, .4m
3 The Dark Knight Rises, .5m. Total: 0.1m
4 Hope Springs, .6m. Total: .1m
5 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, .2m. Total: .6m
6 Total Recall, .1m. Total: .2m
7 Ice Age 4: Continental Drift, .8m. Total: 4.1m
8 Ted, .3m. Total: 9.9m
9 Step Up Revolution, .9m. Total: .2m
= 10 The Amazing Spider-Man, .2m. Total: 5.5m
= 10 The Watch, .2m. Total: .4m
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010
Seit 1996 bin ich freier Mitarbeiter der Salzgitter-Zeitung, als Experte für das Geschehen im hiesigen Kreisfußball. Daneben sind meine Kolumnen seit 2005 fester Bestandteil im Lokalteil der Salzgitter-Zeitung. Zusammen mit Frau und Tochter sowie zwei gefräßigen wie faulen Stubentigern versuche ich das zu meistern, was das Leben, das Universum und der ganze Rest an Absurditäten für uns bereithalten.