On Movie Spy Bosses needing an image change and why Jason Bourne might be a jerk.

The Bourne Legacy kicks and punches into cinemas this summer as yet another franchise reboot for 2012. No Matt Damon this time – the ‘Bourne’ name is used purely for brand recognition – but man-of-the-moment Jeremy Renner is onboard and it seems he can throw a punch like the best of them. Well, at least as well as Bourne, basically.

We’re promised grit, alpine action scenes and a flurry of fisticuffs in the trailer. Of course we also have a plethora of thespian faces – namely Joan Allen, Ed Norton and Albert Finney – who deliver some added respectability to the movie and utter intense yet generic dialogue like “We’ve never seen evaluations like this!” and “Welcome to the programme!”

The plot for Bourne Legacy isn’t clear yet, but hopefully there is one and they’re not just making it up as they go in the edit suite. It seems likely Renner’s superspy Aaron Cross will at some point go rogue in the best traditions of the spy thriller and end up having to take on the Evil Government Agency.

Perhaps it’s a reflection of these cynical times that The Agency is always the shady villain of the piece. It’s in charge and therefore bad news. Sooner or later the Movie Spy Bosses will need to get together and figure out how they turn the tide. How they win the hearts and minds of Joe Cinema Goer. Because, after all, it’s thinking about the big picture in an almost-profound way that the Movie Spy Boss is actually good at. That of course makes them somehow that much more detestable.

They’ll gather around a table in a dimly-lit basement – maybe with the low hum of Very Expensive electronic equipment thrumming gently in the background – and they’ll watch each other suspiciously with narrowed eyes and pursed lips. Most of them will silently wish they could just head to the nearest bar and get drunk on power.

Their Shadowy Leader approaches purposefully from a corner and leers intently at his colleagues: “People, the simple truth is we’ve become far too evil.”

Raucous shouts of disagreement come from his Movie Spy Boss colleagues, but the Shadowy Leader silences them: “What do you want from me? Come on, we’re actually pretty rubbish at this. We create these dastardly training programmes that produce spies who are brilliantly resourceful, fantastically fit and can kill a man with a magazine and a toaster, but they always end up going rogue. I know Treadstone and the Impossible Missions Force have had real problems with Jason Bourne and Ethan Hunt’s crew. Like, four times in a row. EACH!

“Why do they end up going rogue? Because they figure out their bosses – that’s us, people – are evil. How do they figure that out? Well, we’re never official, which is always a sure sign that something’s out of whack. We’re always a bit overweight, we tend to be office monkeys who can’t handle ourselves in a fight, and we have the moral instincts of a tabloid news editor.

“And don’t get me started on the goons who do all our dirty work; they’re all rubbish! The people we send to catch the Bournes and Hunts of this world barely get a chance to throw a lumbering punch before they get laid out. Haven’t we got anyone as good as Bourne who hasn’t gone rogue? Was he the only guy we trained up!

“In summary, people, we need to switch things around. We need an image change. Agents going rogue should be a very bad thing. What kind of world are we living in when these guys break all the rules, assault a bunch of Government employees, cause pile-ups in the street and still end up getting a round of applause and fingering us as the villains?”

A moment passes as the Shadowy Leader gauges his colleagues’ reactions. Apart from the octogenarian spy chief at the end of the table who’s snoozing rebelliously, there are murmurs of resigned agreement.

The future of the movie spy agency suddenly seems a little less bleak.

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Nick Goundry
I'm a film journalist and comedy writer. Career highlights so far? Shaking Werner Herzog's hand, disrupting a David Cronenberg interview with an antique Dictaphone and getting chased by the Western Norway Film Commission in a speedboat. I also run the daily news blog at location filming specialist The Location Guide. Drop me a line at nick.goundry@gmail.com.