“Death Within”, the second installment in the Jason Bourne franchise, ends on a brilliant cliffhanger and offers a perfect transition with “The Vengeance in the skin”. But this ending was not the one originally produced, and was shot and edited at the last moment to replace the first ending, considered very disappointing.
Jason Bourne, the perfect trilogy?
There is something unique about the original Jason Bourne trilogy. Indeed, no one can agree on which film wins over the others. Would it be The memory of the skin, the first opus that revolutionized the action-espionage genre in 2002? Or rather, is it its sequel, The death in the skin, with the formidable direction of Paul Greengrass? Or The Vengeance skin, opus-mirror of the first two to the perfect spectacle ? Hard to say. And in any case, not being able to decide between them testifies to the very, very high quality of these three films.
It took little for The death in the skinthe second opus which takes place in India, very briefly in Italy then in Germany, is not released in cinemas with another end than the one we know. The latter is perfect: after getting rid of Kirill (Karl Urban) in Moscow, despite his shoulder injury, Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) goes to meet Alexander Neski’s daughter, Irina (Oksana Akinshina) . After telling him the truth about the death of his parents, he walks away from his building. We find him later, in better shape, in New York and on the phone with Pamela Landy (Joan Allen). She reveals her true identity to him, and Jason Bourne ends the conversation with this cult line: “Rest up, Pam. You look tired.“
An end already ideal in itself, but which above all allows us to tell The Vengeance in the skin at the heart of the ellipse between when he leaves Irina in Moscow, and calls Pamela Landy in New York.
A first ending that no one liked
This end of The death in the skin is recalled from the very beginning of The Vengeance in the skin. Indeed, it takes place directly after the departure of Jason Bourne from Irina’s building. And if this end is perfect and ideally conditions the unfolding of The Vengeance in the skin, it was not at all the end first filmed and present in the final cut of The death in the skin, two weeks before its release in 2004. This first ending, never mentioned by the cast or production crew, was found hidden in a DVD version (see below).
In this first ending, Jason Bourne loses consciousness while leaving Irina’s building. We find him detained and bedridden in a Berlin hospital, where Pamela Landy visits him. She reveals her name to him, and “offers” him to come back. Then leaving him unattended for a few seconds, he takes the opportunity to escape. let’s say it, a disappointing ending, and which was already for the film crew at the time. What made it so that, two weeks before the release of The death in the skin, a reshoot day is organized to turn the end that we know? The valuable intervention and in extremis by Matt Damon and screenwriter George Nolfi.
The lunch that changed everything
In 2004, the release of The death in the skin is scheduled for release in the United States on July 23. Shortly before this date, Matt Damon is in Europe where he is filming Ocean’s Twelve. There, he spends a lot of time with George Nolfi, the screenwriter of Steven Soderbergh’s film, present throughout the filming. He said in an interview given to Comingsoon in 2011 :
While I was on the set of “Ocean’s Twelve”, I wrote the last scene of the final sequence of “Death in the skin”. It was really a few days before the release, and they weren’t really happy with the ending. So I asked Matt Damon to have lunch and sit down for 45 minutes to improve it, and eventually rewrite it. Then he was flown back from Europe to the United States to film this new ending in a single day, and everyone was happy.
As specified Screeningthe reshoot of the end scene of The death in the skin cost a total of $200,000. A large sum, but ultimately well spent, given the his decisive narrative contribution. Convinced by this contribution from George Nolfi, the producers of the Bourne franchise will call him back to rewrite the screenplay The Vengeance skin, after a first version of Tony Gilroy considered to be very insufficient. Hence, in part, the perfect symbiosis between these two filmsand the cinematic peak that…