FILM REVIEW - MORGAN
Running Length: 92 minutes
Release Date: 2nd September 2016
Directed by: Luke Scott
Cast: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie
Written by: Seth Owen
Director of Cinematography: Mark Patten
Diverting enough as long as you leave your brain at the door.
Luke Scott’s debut feature is undoubtedly going to suffer from proximity to the infinitely superior Ex Machina. Both movies share near-identical stories with similar themes – our over-reliance on technology and what happens when the creation turns against the creator – but Alex Garland’s sci-fi sleeper is in a completely different class. Morgan has none of Ex Machina’s flair, style or originality. Nor does it bear any sense of mystery. Ultimately, Morgan is quite a decent B-movie with notions above its station.
In this present-day sci-fi, Kate Mara plays Lee Weathers, a risk assessment specialist working for “The Company” (dun dun duuun). She is sent to a remote research facility to evaluate the viability of a bioengineered synthetic lifeform and to interview its creators. For Weathers, the “L9 prototype” is a product, but to the scientists who created it, Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) is the remarkable next step in human evolution. But Morgan’s continued existence is put under review after she violently attacks one of her handlers.
As the synthetic Morgan, Taylor-Joy is human enough to garner sympathy, but just creepy enough to unsettle. Elsewhere, some biggish names get a very short shrift. Paul Giamatti manages to get one meaty scene in (but if you thought that Rafe Spall’s scientist in Prometheus was dumb, then you ain’t seen nothing yet), but Jennifer Jason Leigh is ignored to the point of rudeness. In his 867th role this year*, Toby Jones shows up as a scientist that you just know is going to go off the deep end.
Morgan suffers from some severe issues with pacing. It starts off well as an ambitious psychological sci-fi before a number of jarring narrative leaps kick it into bog-standard action flick territory. A final act twist is well signposted during the first few minutes, and would have been more shocking if it had been left out altogether. It’s nothing special, but Morgan is diverting enough as long as you leave your brain at the door.
*Toby Jones has not had 867 roles this year. It just seems that way.