Morgan movie full length review - Underwhelming, predictable debut from Luke Scott
Heading into the cinema for the screening of Morgan, my expectations were fairly modest. I knew little about the movie itself other than the basic premise put forward in the trailer.
In the opening 5 mins, I was immediately reminded of recent Sci-Fi sleeper, "Ex Machina". Set in a remote forest research facility, our protagonist "Lee Weathers" (Mara) is sent in with a brief to assess a recent incident involving a secret biological experiment and the viability of the project continuing. Isolated at the facility for the duration of the project (7 years) she is also given details that the team may be further involved in the incident than first glance would have her believe. Weathers is warned that "another Helsinki" would be harmful to the company and she should act to prevent any further incidents.
We are introduced to the research team, Toby Jones as senior lead doctor and Michelle Yeoh as the overseer, and survivor of the Helsinki incident are familiar faces. Rose Leslie and Jen Jason Leigh are also involved, though only Leslie is given enough material to be anything more than a sketched out character. The rest of the group are cutouts, involved in someway but entirely unremarkable or memorable in any way.
Anya Taylor-Joy, who broke out earlier this year with her performance in "The Witch", is "Morgan" - the biologically engineered experiment whose DNA was synthesized in the lab in a way that would also allow Nano-bots to be introduced in order to expedite her development and heighten her abilities/intelligence.
With the stage set and me having bought into the premise, "Morgan" then failed to deliver anything surprising, suspenseful or dramatic. I did enjoy seeing Paul Giamatti roll in (just in time) to liven things up a bit by interrogating "Morgan" to assess her on a psychological level and the scene does stand out as the best in the movie. Taylor-Joy more than holds her own as she bubbles to life under Giamatti's needling approach and the climax sees the movie into its second act. Still, I had to question why a known violent biological experiment, whose psychological state was unknown, would be completely unrestrained during a face to face with Giamatti's character.
The second act of the movie involves the team, supposedly intelligent and reliable individuals, making dumb decisions in order to "protect their work" which just grates and sees the film descend into a last man standing affair.
Toby Jones hangs himself when he thinks Morgan has been euthanised, but as an audience we cant feel any loss because he is never afforded any depth or decent screen time.
Jen Jason Leigh sleeps the entire movie then shows up in order to add to the body count.
Michelle Yeoh mumbles her way through her role before trying to deliver some kind of poignant video log farewell during which Morgan interrupts and kills her.
Token African American characters, who are given so little to work with I cant even remember their names or why they were in the film, are killed off without a second glance.
After the fodder has been dealt with, the third act has Weathers (Mara) and the facilities hunky chef, Skip (Boyd Holbrook) chasing Morgan (Taylor-Joy) and Dr. Amy (Leslie) through the forest. Fortunately, Skip "knows where they're headed" and the chase doesn't last long.
The final scenes of the film, where the "big twist" is revealed comes far too late and without any emotional punch or "whoa" factor. The lack of subtlety throughout the film gives the game away which is why the rest of the film falls flat, we know what's coming so just hurry up and get there.
The ending plays out far too safely and I was left wondering what the movie actually wanted to be defined as. It only scratched the surface of any moral issues surrounding the concepts within the film (Biological engineering the obvious one). It was also unable to deliver on being any one of Action/Sci-Fi/Thriller/Horror purely through a lack of any major elements that contribute to owning those genres.
The main thing for me was Mara's character, I never once bought into her role and I think she really struggled with the complexities of her character and bringing what was required to the screen.
Given the meagre budget of the film and being the directorial debut for Son of a Gun, Luke Scott, I guess it is unsurprising that not every note was hit (or even played) in Morgan.
I do however, believe that Anya Taylor-Joy's star is rising and we should see more of her in future.
Oh, special mention - Brian Cox is such a great actor, I love most of his on screen roles, but I will never understand why he is continually under utilized. Great talent (Jones and Giamatti too for that matter) but wasted here for this.
Better luck next time - 4/10