Paul Greengrass Abandons The Fourth 'Bourne,' Leaving Franchise's Future Uncertain

The Bourne UltimatumIt sounds like Jason Bourne has a lot more than a bad case of misplaced identity to deal with. Director Paul Greengrass — who helmed the second and third "Bourne" installments — has reportedly walked away from the developing fourth "Bourne" movie, leaving the project without a director.

The Playlist has extensive analysis on the situation, suggesting that the departure of Greengrass is due to a variety of reasons, including his alleged tendency to run up budget costs and his own dissatisfaction over the way Universal has treated him during "Green Zone," his Iraq War film starring Bourne himself, Matt Damon.

Greengrass's departure might not be permanent, however. According to The Playlist, Universal might need the filmmaker in the fold if the studio wants to make a fourth "Bourne" installment with Damon, given his loyalty to the director after the last two "Bourne" movies and his recent work on "Green Zone."

Whether Greengrass returns or not, the moral of the story is that the "Bourne" franchise is in trouble — and frankly, I'm not sure that this is bad news.

While each of the films have their own merit, the franchise was already taking a downward turn with the most recent entry, "The Bourne Ultimatum." I admire the desire to keep a continuity between the films — having Julia Stiles' low-level character evolve into a main player by the third movie, for instance — but I think the franchise hurt itself by continually pushing the Treadstone and amnesia plot buttons. Maybe now that a fourth "Bourne" is less certain, Universal and the remaining creative players will consider ways to freshen up the series by exploring new, uncharted story avenues.

But with Greengrass out of the picture and Damon's continued participation shaky at best, Universal has to consider whether or not a new actor could take the reins of the franchise. If Jason Bourne is an attempt at a script-flipped James Bond, then perhaps another actor could take over the part with the same success as Damon. Still, it's hard to imagine another actor in the role since "Ultimatum" is still somewhat fresh in our minds.

I'm sure Universal would prefer to keep Damon in place, so trying to recapture Greengrass is a likely maneuver. Another tactic, maybe, is to find another director that Damon has a history with like Steven Soderbergh or, heck, even Ben Affleck. That could be an interesting take on "Bourne."

Either way, major shake-ups are going down in the "Bourne" camp and I see it playing out in one of three ways: a terrible fourth installment will get rushed into production, a thoughtful and well-executed sequel will come about when it's ready or the franchise is dead for the time being. Here's hoping for the second option — but if the "Bourne" series is truly over, then perhaps it's for the best.

What do you think of Greengrass's alleged departure? How much trouble do you think the "Bourne" franchise is in? Do you think it should continue? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter!