In what can be described as a less cerebral, action/thriller version of Ex Machina, Morgan manages to use every trope in the genre book therefore creating a film whose every step is visible from the first 10 or 15 minutes.
Directed by Luke Scott, son of Ridley Scott, Morgan is clearly one of those films where all sorts of great actors signed on because of the pedigree of the director; a ‘it’s who you know’ extravaganza. I can’t imagine any other reason people like Kate Mara, Brian Cox, Paul Giamatti, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Michelle Yeoh would sign on to do this film. I can see why relatively new actress Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) would, she’s looking to get some interesting and varied roles under her belt – it’s all good experience. And let’s face it, whatever elements here are not Scott’s miss-steps, they certainly are writer Seth W. Owen’s. Actor’s often can only do so much with what is written on the page.
Morgan is a genetically engineered human that is clearly created to be some kind of weapon. It is a project owned and overseen by some Corporation. If you heard the CFN podcast about this, you’ll know there is a lot of mention of this “Corporation”. A little stabbing incident occurs, and a risk-management consultant (Mara) is sent in to evaluate whether or not the artificially created human, Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) should be terminated.
A whole lot of stuff you’ve seen before in other films takes place. There are various little twists in the plot that I saw long before they happened, most especially one that I think was supposed to be a big surprise at the very end. It was obvious less than 20 minutes into the film.
All of the actors try their best to sell their roles, and do, more or less, but to no avail. The screenplay is just too familiar and you really don’t care much. There are tiny glimpses of interesting ideas that could have been explored, like how the researchers all became enamored with Morgan since they all knew her since her “birth” – all of five years ago. But that emotional connection they built with her is something worth exploring on both sides of that connection.
Sadly, we are quickly pushed past that possibility and into a more violent action/thriller that has nowhere to go but into every obvious step of this wasted opportunity of a sci-fi film that wants to be Ex Machina, but never gets past its’ own adolescent stage.
If you are on a plane, or painfully bored on a rainy day and this is on cable, it might pass the time. But, frankly, if you’re at home, read a book instead. At least on a plane you are a captive audience and this might distract you- if you forgot to bring a book. Otherwise, there’s no way I’m going to recommend Morgan. Not even to fans of anyone in this or science fiction fans. Nope. Just don’t do it. Two kittenhands if I’m being nice about it.
~ Neil T Weakley, your average movie-goer, Reminding you that Star Trek turns 50 tomorrow, September 8.