Directed by Luke Scott, son of Ridley Scott, comes Morgan, a supposedly cerebral sci-fi thriller that seems to have left its brain at the door.
Morgan sees a team of scientists grapple with the moral quandaries of terminating a bioengineered child (Anya Taylor-Joy) that they’ve nurtured since birth after a routine experiment ends in violence. With corporate risk assessment consultant Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) breathing down their necks, the team have to accept that Morgan is both dangerous and unpredictable, but their emotional attachment continues to create complications.
I’m just going to put it out there – Morgan is a mess from start to finish. Well actually, that’s a lie – the final scene is a doozy. There are ideas introduced in the final scene that make you finally sit up and take notice, but everything in the 90 minutes beforehand is a sloppy, directionless mess of tangled character motivations and narrative arcs. Believe me, holding out for that sting in the tail isn’t worth the wait.
At its core, Morgan has some good stuff to work with – it’s just a shame then that director Luke Scott fails to mould them into anything worthwhile. Firstly, the script is about as riveting as a really piss-weak episode of Doctor Who from the 80s. The actions of almost every character in the film are wildly inconsistent or deeply flawed. It’s really lazy, B-movie writing.
This is an $8 million sci-fi where next to nothing happens for a good hour, and when something does happen, we’re already knee-deep in the final act. I could count on one hand the number of notable plot points and I’d still have three fingers remaining. Scott fills the bulk of the film with creaky, wooden exposition that gives us all the essential backstory, but none of the key emotional beats to make us care about anyone. Are we supposed to feel sympathy for Morgan or unsettled by Lee’s uncaring ruthlessness? None of the characters are particularly likeable, which makes the tedious pacing and generic plot a real slog.
It doesn’t help that the execution isn’t anything to write home about. The continuity between scenes, and sometimes takes, is slapdash at best. In one scene, we see a character run barely 100 meters from one set to another – one minute it’s pitch dark outside, the next it’s broad daylight. Did that just happen or did someone accidentally step on the fast-forward button? While this is sci-fi and I expect some liberties to be taken with the truth, please don’t insult our intelligence like that.
A lot of really talented actors are wasted in this piece – Mara, Toby Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Brian Cox. Even Paul freakin’ Giamatti is in this movie! Were they being blackmailed or something?
At the end of the day, Morgan doesn’t offer anything we haven’t seen before and bears too many similarities to Alex Garland’s far superior Ex Machina to earn a recommendation from me. In fact, just go watch Ex Machina instead.
Morgan is available in Australian cinemas from December 1st
Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox