The Jason Bourne spy franchise has been a solid action vehicle for actor Matt Damon, and over the years, Universal Pictures has experimented with trying to turn it into a bigger franchise. Its latest attempt is a TV show called Treadstone, and the first trailer just hit the web today.
The series will debut on USA this October, and the trailer shows off all of the requisite hand-to-hand action scenes, car chases, and glimpses of documents the CIA really should have shredded years ago. The show looks as though it’s aimed at building out the world we first saw in The Bourne Identity, following a group of sleeper agents as they discover they’re uncannily good at getting in and out of fights but are conditioned to not remember their training. From the teaser, it looks like someone’s going through the trouble of tracking them down to “wake” them up.
Back in July, USA released a brief announcement teaser with the show’s characters: sleeper agents, SoYun Pak (Han Hyo-Joo) and J. Randolph Bentley (Jeremy Irvine), as well as Petra (Emilia Schüle), a Russian KGB agent. Michelle Forbes (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Battlestar Galactica) will also appear as a CIA agent.
The first Bourne film introduced a solid action film concept: a secret program called Operation Treadstone trained soldiers to be the perfect assassins, with the unfortunate consequence that it sometimes left them unstable and prone to mental health issues. In Jason Bourne’s case, that meant dissociative amnesia.
It’s a good framework on paper, but we’ll have to see how well it scales up outside of the Matt Damon-led series. He kicked off the franchise with The Bourne Identity in 2002 and followed up with three sequels: 2004’s Bourne Supremacy, 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum, and 2016’s Jason Bourne. When Damon opted not to return for a fourth film, Jeremy Renner filled in, playing another agent caught up in the drama in The Bourne Legacy, which never lived up to its predecessors. The franchise seems to have fizzled out a bit since then, although various people involved have made the obligatory pledge that they’d be interested to return if they can get the right story. This latest group of actors isn’t quite as well-known as Damon, so we’ll have to see if they can take his place on-screen.
With Treadstone, it seems Universal is ready to try again, this time on TV. Tim Kring (Heroes) created the series, and it’ll apparently go into the origins and present happenings of the clandestine government program. There’s certainly an appetite for action-oriented spy thrillers: Amazon released Jack Ryan last year, an adaptation of the Tom Clancy character that recently received a modern surge in popularity. Amazon also debuted Hanna, a TV series based on the 2011 film, which also follows a super-assassin.