Directed by Luke Scott
Starring Anya Taylor-Joy, Kate Mara, Rose Leslie, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Brian Cox, and Paul Giamatti
A corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being.
Luke Scott’s (yes, the son of Ridley Scott) directorial debut Morgan is essentially Ex Machina for dummies. There’s really no nicer way to put it than that. Essentially, all sense of subtlety and stimulating subtext on the always profound and captivating theme of man playing God is lost and disowned for the sake of going for gory deaths and nonstop action.
It’s all unfortunate considering that the first 30 minutes or so of the movie seem to be going somewhere interesting, even if it is nothing refreshing at all. Basically, a bunch of scientists have created a living organism that is the titular Morgan, a five-year-old girl with the physical appearance of a teenager and a mental capacity far superior than you and I. Of course, considering that the film opens up with her having a slight fit and stabbing a character in the eye with a fork, it’s already a foregone conclusion to the viewer but this is an experiment going off the rails, and that the corporate risk management consultant played by Kate Mara will probably rightfully shut everything down.
To give a little credit where it is due, Anya Taylor-Joy (star of one of this year’s best horror films and one of the best movies of the year in general The Witch) does a good job delivering a cold and disconnected performance as the artificial being. Her lines are delivered robotically, and viewers will get the sense from her words and facial expressions that she is conflicted on her actions and is attempting to understand the consequences to her actions, all to become a better being. Anya is doing such serviceable character work that it is an absolute shame once again that the movie devolves into a killfest with no redeeming plot points whatsoever.
Paul Giamatti is brought in for a psychological evaluation where he essentially just taunts Morgan for five minutes like a complete ass, and subsequently gets the crap kicked out of him. It’s also worth noting that he is giving his A-level game in an F-level movie. Anyway, from there on, Morgan essentially morphs on the spot into one of the worst slasher films I have seen in quite some time. This is a movie where characters in life or death situations actually lower their guns right in the face of danger. Honestly, it’s hard to give two shits whether someone lives or dies.
Morgan likes to go about combat hand-to-hand which is actually a nifty idea; it isn’t very often you watch a brutal bloody killing machine or teenager going all kung-fu on her prey. The problem is that all of the scenes contain constant quick-cut editing and are so haphazardly put together, it is nearly impossible to tell what is going on. It’s a shame because again, the idea of a super-powered teenage girl fighting off doctors and lab researchers with martial arts probably showed promise on paper.
The late game twist that Morgan features also needs attention called to, as it might be one of the most pointless twists lately. It adds nothing to the movie and does nothing whatsoever to make you re-examine the narrative and see it in a new lens. All the twist does is make one character come across as less stupid in hindsight, as you now know their actual intentions. Honestly, I’m convinced that it was thrown in at the last second as a last-ditch effort to save face at how stupid some of the characters are.
If Morgan was 90 minutes of Paul Giamatti conducting psychological evaluations that go back and forth with the conflicted Frankenstein creation that is Morgan, Luke Scott might have had something here and would have quickly made a mark following in the name of his father. Those two actors assuredly have some fantastic chemistry in the one scene they do share. Morgan isn’t far off from something like Blade Runner in design, meaning that you can see his father’s influence in his work, but it is most certainly poorly executed.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★
. url=”.” . width=”100%” height=”150″ iframe=”true” /]