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Morgan Review


The core premise of Morgan, that of a laboratory made human striking out against it’s creators, is nothing new. We’ve seen it thousands of times of before, from Frankenstein to the last year’s Ex Machina, but this debut feature from Luke ‘son of Ridley’ Scott does attempt to make the premise it’s own, if it doesn’t always stick the landing. To delve deeper into the story, Kate Mara is Lee Weathers, a corporate trouble shooter set to a remote lab to determine whether or not Morgan (Anya Taylor Joy), a bio engineered artificial intelligence who has exceeded the expectations of her creators, is a danger to the world after a ‘tantrum’ leaves one of her handlers seriously injured.

There’s nothing much more to the narrative than that, and the biggest problem is that screen writer Seth Owen doesn’t really develop the numerous interesting ideas he throws at us, and pretty soon Morgan settles into a comfortable groove as a run of the mill sci-fi thriller. This movie has two speeds, slow and methodical and hyper speed. The first act, and much of the second, takes it’s time setting up the premise and characters, setting the chess board so it can flipped over later. It does it’s best to sow the seeds of tension and dread of what is to come, and partly succeeds, but most of the time you’ll find yourself fighting not to look at your watch. It’s close to the hour mark that the movie kicks into high gear, and it’s all because of a conversation. The movie up until now was building towards a psych evaluation between the titular AI and the wonderfully smarmy Paul Giamatti, and the scene pays off in spades, selling Morgan for the threat that she is, and showing that rising star Taylor-Joy (last seen in The Witch) has what it takes to hang with big boys, holding her own with a heavy hitter like Giamatti.

From that moment on, Morgan becomes a different movie, bringing in elements of horror and a huge helping of action as Morgan takes it to her ‘family’ and it doesn’t let up until the closing credits. It’s a bit of a shock to the system at first, being a complete 180 from what came before, but Scott and Owens makes it work. There’s also a third act reveal that most of the audience will guess in the opening minutes, but to the credit of the film makers they never present it as anything else than what it is. There’s no pulling of any wool over anyone’s eyes, and for those who do cop to it, it actually helps the story as we’re left wondering and invested in what is actually going on.

For his feature debut, Scott proves himself to an immense emerging talent, with the entire movie being an incredibly slick affair, with some great use of lighting (one scene bated in the red glow of a car’s headlights is especially unsettling) and a endlessly creepy sound mix. He also has a great handle on an ensemble cat, that also includes Michelle Yeoh, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, and Jennifer Jason Leigh, even if a lot of them are relegated to the sidelines. It’s Mara and Taylor-Joy who are left with the lions share of work, and they both handle it with ease, especially Taylor-Joywho actually makes us feel for Morgan and making her an incredibly compelling character.

A great first film from Luke Scott, Morgan is let down by a generic script that doesn’t do justice to the lofty ideas it wants to explore. What we’re left is a run of the mill, but entertaining, sci-fi thriller.


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The Movie Bit: Morgan Review
Morgan Review
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