Luke Scott’s Morgan stars Ana Taylor Joy (The Witch and M. Night Shyamalan’s Split), a genetically created human who was created out in the middle of nowhere, in a lab of scientists. Her whole world has been relegated to this facility and the very limited surroundings, so her human interaction with people other than the scientists, is extremely limited. After Morgan attacks and severely injures one of the scientists, corporate risk evaluator, Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) is sent in. What is Morgan really capable of? Was this outburst just an accident? Is she a further danger to herself and others? Is she worth the risk? Should Morgan be terminated or be allowed to live for further studies to be conducted?
Luke Scott is Ridley Scott’s son and Ridley Scott’s Scott Free Productions has brought Morgan to the big screen. Panned by critics and horrible box office numbers made Morgan one of several films who fulfilled their contractual obligations in theaters, but was pulled after about three weeks. As a film, Morgan is far from perfect. Director Luke Scott however, has crafted an interesting film propelled by its performances of just about everyone involved, most notably Ana Tayloe Joy, Kate Mara and a scene-stealing Paul Giamatti. The supporting performances are decent, too especially the relationship between Morgan and Dr. Amy Menser (Rose Leslie).
Yes, Morgan is derivative other films, some much better and a lot that are much worse than Morgan. So Morgan can hardly be called original, but the film is a credible mystery and the relationships in the film are well written and deftly handled. The production values are a nice balance of technical wizardry in the lab but when the film switches to the outdoors, it still held my interest. Screenwriter Seth W. Owens has written a decent script that delves into the psyche of not only Morgan but just about everyone in the compound. There are a couple of characters who don’t seem to have much to do and could have been easily left out. They seem to exist only to serve as fodder for a rather routine climax. However, Morgan does have a twist in the very last scene which I did not see coming and it worked for me.
Morgan will inevitably be compared to Ex Machina from 2015 which was one of the very best films of that year. Morgan is not even close to that film. Whatever budget Ex Machina ($15 million) had Morgan’s was even less ($8 million). Luke Scott has made the most of his paltry budget and created an interesting setting. The lab is seen as sterile but filled with technology and seems to be a character in and of itself. I was intrigued by its layout, where you have the lab with top-of-the-line electronics but the living quarters for everyone (except Morgan) feels more like a bed and breakfast.
I liked the supporting cast that includes Toby Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Boyd Holbrook, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Chris Sullivan, Vinette Robinson and Michael Yare. No one is taking home the Oscar but for what the roles require, they do their jobs. I also enjoyed Max Richter’s score which creeps up on you. The problem I had with Morgan is the final act which collapses into utter chaos and carnage. It seems to be the inevitable conclusion for a film like Morgan. But all of the interesting questions it seems to want to delve into fall by the wayside so we can watch another car chase and shoot-out. There also is a budding romance between the cook (Boyd Holbrook) and Dr. Weathers (Mara) that is boring and slows Morgan down. Fortunately, their generically bland romantic story is not followed through on. The climax shows why the filmmakers wanted to include it, but for what happens the love story really makes little sense.
Morgan is not perfect, but it did not deserve the utter contempt that was shoveled onto it. For a B title film, I found it to be mysterious and interesting and the performances by Ana Taylor Joy (who will win an Oscar for her acting in a film) and Kate Mara make the film a lot more compelling than some of the garbage out there with a similar plot. No one is talking about Morgan at the Academy Awards, obviously. But for what Scott has accomplished on a minuscule budget, Morgan worked well enough for me to recommend it and after looking at some of my choices for the worst films of the year, a film like Morgan is a welcome sight.
Morgan – *** out of 5
Morgan – Rated-R for language, gore, violence and adult situations
Morgan – Run Time is 92 minutes
Morgan is now available on DVD, subscription services and On Demand.