Main cast: Kate Mara (Lee Weathers), Anya Taylor-Joy (Morgan), Toby Jones (Dr Simon Ziegler), Rose Leslie (Amy Menser), Boyd Holbrook (Skip Vronsky), Jennifer Jason Leigh (Kathy Grieff), and Michelle Yeoh (Dr Lui Cheng)
Director: Luke Scott
Lee Weathers shows up one fine day at a top secret research facility, clearly disguised as an old bungalow in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by woods and with a lake nearby, to evaluate the entire project after an… accident. You see, the team under Dr Lui Cheng and Dr Simon Ziegler has created and is now nurturing Morgan, a biologically-enhanced person, but recently, Morgan stabs one of them, Kathy, in the eye. Dr Lui Cheng, you see, had discovered that the team had been coddling Morgan and even taking her out for secret outings. As she tells Lee, she thinks that this is wrong, as the cruelest thing one can do to a girl who is going to spend a long time confined in a room is to “press her face against the window”. Morgan clearly resents having the privilege to see the outside world revoked.
So, will Morgan become more violent, or will she behave? Is she capable of human emotions, like Dr Ziegler and most of the team insist, or she is a dangerous weapon of mass destruction without human empathy? Well, Lee will find out soon enough…
With both Ridley Scott and his son Luke involved in Morgan, what can go wrong, right? Well, this one starts out pretty good. The slow build-up – deceptively peaceful, but with clear tensions in the undercurrents – is gripping, culminating in a confrontation between Morgan and a psychiatrist (played by Paul Giamatti) that is simply fantastic. The movie then slides downhill from that point, never being able to match the sheer brilliance of that scene again.
The problem with this movie is that, fifteen minutes into the movie, I can correctly map out the course of the entire thing. Really, it turns out that I correctly guessed all the twists and turns after just watching a bit of it. Maybe it’s because I’ve watched or read too many of such stories, but Morgan feels like an amalgamation of many dark sci-fi tropes, and a confused one at that. The first half or so is more atmospheric and character-driven, the second half is basically girl-on-girl all-out violence in motion. I have nothing against either of these, of course, but I just wish there is a bit more seamless transition from one to another. Any questions about Morgan’s humanity that are built up in the first half, for example, are abandoned in favor of non-stop violence once the second half kicks in. Therefore, all that work done in the first half feels like a waste.
Kate Mara makes a pretty good cold-hearted kick-ass lead, and Anya Taylor-Joy can certainly hold her own very well. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast is sort of just there, though, outshined by Paul Giamatti in his very short time on the show.
At the end of the day, Morgan is perfectly acceptable as a dumb action sci-fi flick, but it will always feel like a wasted opportunity to me. Furthermore, it could hold its cards a little closer instead of laying them out at the table in one go – me having guessed through all its efforts to provide twists and turns is not exactly helping when it comes to getting me to enjoy the movie more.