Film Review – Morgan
Morgan makes no illusions as to what it is. The initial teaser trailer made it look original, intriguing, and it had an air of mystery. Cue the following trailers, and the target audience may have already figured the whole film out prior to minute one.
Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) is a hybrid biological organism, manufactured in a lab. There are subtle hints that she is part robot or computer; the first in her series to be successful. At only five years old, but in the growing body of a young woman, she struggles to figure out who she is. She is secluded away in the Pacific Northwest in bunker along with a house full of scientists and support staff dedicated to her care and success. Among her very attached staff are Dr. Amy Menser (Rose Leslie), Dr. Simon Ziegler (Toby Jones), Dr. Darren Finch (Chris Sullivan), Ted Brenner (Michael Yare), Dr. Brenda Finch (Vinette Robinson), “Mother” Dr. Lui Cheng (Michelle Yeoh), and the not-so-attached cook Skip Vronsky (Boyd Holbrook).
It is within the first couple of minutes that the intentions of Morgan are not good. She stabs the eye out of one of her scientists, Dr. Kathy Grieff (Jennifer Jason Leigh), after being restricted from going outside. It is this event that triggers a corporate risk management visit from Lee Weathers (Kate Mara). It is with her visit that we get an outsider’s look into what the hell is going on in this place. It is with the arrival of the psychiatrist Dr. Alan Shapiro (Paul Giamatti) that events escalate further, and the thriller portion of the film begins.
The biggest mistake, in my humble reviewer’s opinion, is the film opening with Morgan’s capabilities already known. If the first few minutes were cut, the audience would wonder why Lee is visiting and why is Kathy’s eye injured, making for an altogether more satisfying thriller film. In other words, the ball is rolling immediately, and what happens later is expected.
Nothing seems unique with Morgan. While costume and makeup keep Morgan looking different enough to demarcate her as not appearing completely human, she may remind you of another film’s character, Ava in Ex Machina. While Ava is a robot and Morgan is a hybrid, the setting, the circumstances, and the struggle to escape their captivity are all too similar.
The worst thing a thriller can be is predictable and Morgan is just that. It takes the fun out of viewer’s experience and any nail-biting emotion is gone. I knew almost every character’s outcome once the story proceeded. The film did manage a couple of surprises, but they are, unfortunately, saved for last.
While I gripe about predictability, Morgan is not a terrible film. It has a stellar cast that makes up for the lack of quality in the story. Its central character of the outsider Lee lets viewers size up Morgan and her “family” as the film progresses. The film will bring up some ethics questions in your mind (or at least should) about playing God and the treatment of only partially-human beings. If it was not for Ex Machina, Morgan would be seen as a more original, satisfying film. Go for the cast, not the story, and wait to see if the ending pays off for you.