Expectations are high because “Morgan” was directed by Luke Scott, son of renowned British film director Sir Ridley Scott. Sir Ridley Scott also serves as the film’s producer.
The upcoming thriller sci-fi film is somewhat like a mix of Alex Garland’s “Ex Machina” (2015) and Luc Besson’s “Lucy” (2014). It isn’t horrible, but it isn’t fascinating either.
“The Witch” actress Anya Taylor-Joy plays the titular character, Morgan, a bioengineered product created with synthetic DNA. Chronologically, she’s 5 years old; appearance wise, she’s a teenager. However, life for the once happy humanoid turns upside down when she “accidentally” stabs one of scientists in the eye. Ouch.
So the question is, “What or who is Morgan?”
According to the official plot, Morgan is “created and raised in a laboratory environment by a group of scientists, she defies nature with her super-human qualities”. The film opens with a security camera footage (which reminded us of “Paranormal Activity”) of how and why Morgan gouges out the eye of Kathy Grieff (played Jennifer Jason Leigh). At first we thought, “She’s a robot, of course she has no feelings or remorse”. Oh, how wrong we were. It turns out that emo girl has too much feelings.
Morgan may have super-human abilities, but she is not mentally stable.
After the incident, Helsinski, the company funding the experiment, sends risk management consultant Lee Weathers (played by Kate Mara) to assess the experiment, known as the L-9 line. She meets Ted Brenner (played by Michael Yare) upon her arrival at the remote laboratory located somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. During her briefing with Ted, she also meets the intelligent group that tends to Morgan – Amy Mensler (played by Rose Leslie) the behaviourist; Skip Vronsky (played by Boyd Holbrook) the chef; nurse Brenda Finch (played by Vinette Robinson) and her husband Dr. Darren Finch (played by Chris Sullivan); Dr. Simon Ziegler (played by Toby Jones), one of the head scientists of the project.
Lee, who is a hard-as-nail woman, then finds out that Morgan is the team’s 3rd attempt in creating an artificial being. Before she meets Morgan, Dr. Ziegler shows Lee all of Morgan’s baby videos and explains to her how Morgan came to be, convincing us that the project is no longer in the name of science. Seeing how the group (except for Skip) is protective of Morgan, it’s safe to say that the film’s sub-theme is “family”.
Let’s not forget that our very own Michelle Yeoh plays Dr. Lui Cheng aka Morgan’s “mother”. Though she doesn’t have much screen time, she has the most memorable line in the whole film. “You know the worst thing you can do to a person trapped inside a room? Press their face against the window,” she said to Lee.
One of the problems with the film’s script, written by Seth Owen, is that very little explanations are given. We have so many unanswered questions throughout the film: What is the objective of this project? Who taught Morgan how to fight as well as she does? Why is Dr. Shapiro (played by Paul Giamatti) the psychiatrist so angry and aggressive all the time? Does Morgan have any other clothes aside from a grey hoodie? Why are there so many close-up shots? Who or what is Lee?
Also, what’s up with Amy and Morgan? The 2 characters seem to have a disturbing romantic attraction towards each other. Amy is the only person Morgan trusts and when Morgan looks into Amy eyes, it’s like she’s in love. Is that relationship healthy for a 5-year-old and her doctor? We don’t think so.
Fun fact: Owen’s script landed on the “Black List of Best Unproduced Screenplays” in 2014.
But this is not to say that the movie was without its good qualities. One of the saving graces was the beautiful lush forest scenes that were done by cinematographer Mark Patten. The fighting scene between Morgan and Lee is also quite impressive. Female hand-to-hand combat is not something very commonly found in movies these days.
All in all, “Morgan” is a mindless thriller that can be pretty entertaining if you don’t compare it with “Ex Machina”. We think that the sci-fi movie did okay against an 8-million-dollar budget.
Watch the trailer for the film below:
“Morgan” is slated to be released in cinemas nationwide on 1st September 2016.