by Dan Hudak
Morgan takes an interesting premise and discards it like it’s a rancid piece of trash. It’s high concept that devolves into low-grade horror schlock, resulting in one of the most predictable and disappointing endings you’ll ever see. If you insist on going, trust me and leave after 45 minutes – whatever ending you imagine in your head is guaranteed to be better than what director Luke Scott delivers.
Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) is a risk management consultant for a technology company. She ventures to a remote area after a scientifically created, human-like synthetic organism called Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy, The Witch) attacks one of its caretakers (Jennifer Jason Leigh). It’s Lee’s responsibility to assess if Morgan is worth preserving or should be eliminated. Interestingly, the doctors at the facility (played by Rose Leslie, Chris Sullivan, Vinette Robinson, Toby Jones and Michelle Yeoh), as well as their assistant Ted (Michael Yare) and chef Skip (Boyd Holbrook), share an affinity for Morgan and want to protect it. This makes sense given that they’ve raised Morgan from infancy for the last five years.
Unlike Ex Machina, which looked at the sentience and desired humanity of synthetic organisms, Morgan goes the monster movie route. Morgan begins to attack and kill those who’ve loved and supported it for years, and the whole time you’re wondering why you’re bothering to watch yet another bland monster movie. It would’ve been so, so much more interesting to dig into the science and figure out why Morgan snaps, how and if it can be fixed, and how its evolving emotions do or do not factor into its decision making. The movie was set up for this. And then Morgan starts biting people’s faces.
Luke Scott is director Ridley Scott’s son, and with this being Luke’s feature film debut, we can understand why it’s not a refined piece of art. It’s worth noting, though, that whereas some directors will work their way up to the big chair, and/or start by creating a handful of short films, Scott has very little experience. He has only one short film to his credit, and was the second unit director on his father’s big budget flop Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014). Granted, there’s no better way to learn than by doing, but it seems he wasn’t quite ready for what this movie requires. He may very well evolve into a fine filmmaker, but this is far from a promising start.
Of course, writer Seth W. Owen is to blame as well, as his story goes so bonkers off the rails asinine that you wish you could grab him and shake some sense into him. Why Morgan does some of the things it does is never explained, and the resolution of Mara’s Lee is completely uninspired. Worse, all the killing and chasing and pleas for help are notably unoriginal. If you’re going to take a path paved by hundreds before you, at least try to do it in a creative way.
In terms of aesthetics and production value Morgan is fine, but if you can’t get the story right, nothing else matters. How dare Luke Scott tease us with a captivating premise and then assault our eyes with such nonsense.