Nine years have passed since Jason Bourne swam off at the end of 2007’s triple Oscar-winning The Bourne Ultimatum, but now he is back.

Neither star Matt Damon nor director Paul Greengrass were on board for 2012’s tepidly-received The Bourne Legacy, but fans and critics' anticipation went through the roof when they both announced they would return for a new adventure.

The film, aptly titled Jason Bourne, sees Damon’s eponymous amnesiac spy unexpectedly resurface. Scenes were shot around the world, including in Croydon and Woolwich Arsenal.

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For star Matt Damon, part of the joy of the film was reuniting the team from the franchise’s previous instalments.

Speaking to us on the red carpet at the film’s European premiere in Leicester Square, he said: “It is really rare for us to get to work with the same people.

“Normally you have a really intense six month period and then you kind of scatter all over the world.

“But with these Bourne movies, this same group gets back together. This movie was nine years later and I think we were just smelling the roses and feeling lucky.”

British actor Riz Ahmed is a newcomer to the Bourne franchise and plays CIA tech specialist Aaron Kalloor.

He told us: “I love these films. I’ve always wanted to work with Paul Greengrass – the things he stands for.

“To me, he always seems to make intelligent movies. I knew when they were going to revive the franchise that it wasn’t just about trying to make money.

“They put a lot of thought behind it and thought long and hard about where they can bring some freshness to it and they really have.

“The world of spycraft and espionage has changed drastically since the last in the series of films. It is right that we reinvestigate that.”

Matt Damon has clearly been vital to the films’ success to date, but just as crucial is the input of director Paul Greengrass.

Born in Cheam and raised in Gravesend (where the cinema is named after him), he first picked up a camera while studying at Gravesend Grammar School.

He went on to become an acclaimed journalist and documentary maker in the 1980s on the ITV current affairs show World in Action and penned the notorious book Spycatcher, which the British government at the time tried to ban.

One of his earliest features was a 1999 TV dramatisation The Murder of Stephen Lawrence.

Though he did not work on The Bourne Identity, his innovative – and oft imitated – style made the second two movies in the trilogy truly distinctive.

Far from being a one-trick pony, his films United 93 and Captain Phillips were both nominated for hatfuls of awards.

Talking to us on the Jason Bourne red carpet, Harry Potter actor Jason Isaacs told us: “You can get great scripts, you can get great actors, you can get great cinematographers and you never know when it’ll turn out right.

“But I do know the meeting of Paul Greengrass and Matt Damon always seems to move the needle in terms of action films.

“Also they don’t do pure action, they do stuff that is allied to character and interesting stories ripped from the headlines. Something happens when those two sit down to cover stories that is watchable.”

He added: “He came from British documentary making, World in Action, and he always makes films that no matter what the budget or what the scale that are as if you have been dropped in the middle of chaos and makes your heart race. He stimulates every part of your senses.”

Isaacs worked with Greengrass on 2010’s Green Zone, which also starred Matt Damon – and was partly filmed at Sandown Park Racecourse, doubling for Baghdad airport – and was effusive about the experience.

He said: “He is endlessly interesting. You have to leave all of your normal skillset behind.

“He is not interested in what people normally do. He tells stories in a completely different way.

“People ape the end the result but what they are missing is his process and his process is that of an incredibly smart, incredibly intuitive storyteller.”

Jason Bourne is out Wednesday, July 27.

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