[Editor's Note: Poster Lab is your weekly dose of movie poster dissection, wherein the House examines the pluses, minuses, and in-betweens of the poster design(s) for a buzzworthy film.]
The first success of the new Bourne poster? It expresses the frenetic speed of the franchise better than any of its predecessors. You don't quite get "briskly-edited spy pulse-pounder" from a bland image of Matt Damon running in place, but you might get it from a dark one-sheet cut into venetian-blind slivers, each one looking a bit like its own passing locomotive, and evoking the ample splicing that marked the Paul Greengrass chapters. Sleek noir action is what Universal and Cold Open are shooting for, and I dare say they've achieved it, despite the feeling that the result boasts only moderate visual interest.
"There was never just one," reads the tagline, desperate to assure you that the Damon/Jeremy Renner swap isn't just a smooth transition, but one that's long been in the cards. Renner, whose face is different enough to personalize but similar enough to maintain brand identity, plays a new mystery man whose circumstances are prompted by what Bourne left behind (hence "Legacy"). The metallic palette reads "gun," the bulging bicep reads "role commitment," and the eyes read "unshakable focus." Indeed, with every sliding panel, the makers of this trilogy extension want to communicate a retention of hallmarks, and cling to the ghost of that eponymous anti-Bond.
The Bourne series is fortunate in that it doesn't feel tired, and a rebirth doesn't seem quite so unnecessary as it does in, say, Sony's Spider-Man universe. Perhaps it was the seemingly accidental icon emergence that did the trick, or that the films have always spoken to a more sophisticated audience than much of what's out there, or that The Bourne Ultimatum put most action thrillers of the past decade to shame. Robert Ludlum's gritty espionage creation may not have the immortality of Ian Fleming's forebear, but there's still gas in the tank, enough that an original spinoff by returning screenwriter (and new helmer) Tony Gilroy doesn't sound like Hollywood-style fan fiction.
The finest Bourne poster remains the one we saw four years ago, which artfully emphasized the crippled sense of self suffered by Damon's antihero. Of course, such an identity fracture is yet another goal of the Bourne Legacy design, its empty spaces most likely the personal voids of Renner's mean machine. But perhaps that's more profundity than this poster deserves. It's probably best to stick with the speed concept (a twist on the tragic slats employed for Rabbit Hole's poster), which, right down to that on-the-go "Y," suggests this new project has no time for small talk.