A letter to the folks running The Bourne Franchise

First of all, thank you for one of the summer’s most enjoyable movies. The Bourne Supremacy is just the right size and shape. Spider-Man 2 runs a little long, considering the comic-book simplicity of its plot. Your film ends at just the right moment. I laughed, I cheered, I clung to my seat in order to keep from being thrown through the windshield of Bourne’s car, and I applauded at your brilliant choice of bringing back that great Moby song in the end credits.

Now, here are few tips for how to stay the course with the third Bourne film:

1. Let Jason Bourne begin to rediscover his personality, not just the facts of his past.

Two movies have given us enough time to grasp that, yes, this guy is hyper-aware of his vulnerability; yes, this guy is desperate to regain his memories. But what about his personality? What does he like to eat? What kind of jokes make him laugh? What does he do in his spare time when he’s NOT trying to uncover his memories? Is he making friends? What’s he like in a casual conversation? Does he believe in God? The first film gave us a little bit of Bourne’s personality. The new one doesn’t. Episode Three should be the one where we really get to know this guy. If we don’t, the franchise is going to become merely another franchise in which the same bunny rabbit must overcome a new variety of obstacles, his brow furrowed, his reflexes primed for the punch.

2. Bring in new and interesting characters, not just more CIA pursuers with their stern glances and their gullibility. Let some dialogue happen that’s as polished and convincing as the contexts and the action.

3. Make the focus of the story something other than Bourne On the Run.

4. Make another gutsy choice of director. Liman did a bang-up job, and Greengrass’s work is astonishing.

Who’ll you think of next? Keep surprising us. Don’t fall back on somebody who’s style will be familiar. How about David O. Russell?

5. If the CIA’s involved, bring back Joan Allen, but let’s give her character some room to breathe. Allen’s an extraordinary actress; don’t waste her time.

6. Push Julia Stiles even farther. She delivered this time around in one astonishing and emotional scene. I want more.

7. Don’t let Bourne do any stunts that Matt Damon can’t perform himself.

The limitations of this action hero are a plus, not a minus. We want to believe in him. We don’t want him to be the Six Million Dollar Man.

8. Give Sean Bean a fantastic role that will allow him to deliver the goods the way he did in The Fellowship of the Ring.

He’s one of the most criminally under-used actors in the business. And he’d fit right in to the Bourne universe. (Hey, you used Karl Urban from LOTR… why not borrow another cast member?)

9. No scenes in strip clubs. It’s the most over-used context for cop flicks and thrillers, and it’s been the hangout for bad guys on Alias so many times I’ve lost count. I groaned in dismay when I saw Kirill hanging out there in The Bourne Supremacy. It was the only moment in the whole film that made me wince due to predictability. You’re better than Alias. Stay better.

Note: We’re far more scared of intelligent villains with taste and style than we are of burnt-out frat boys toting missile launchers. You’d never catch Hannibal Lecter wasting time with a lap dance.

10. Restraint, restraint, restraint.

It’s been the blessing of the series so far. But if you turn this over to Tarantino or one of the in-your-face directors, you’ll really really blow your credibility. The first two films have been grade-A examples of lean, mean filmmaking. Keep up the great work.

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