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New Release Review - MORGAN

A risk assessment officer is assigned the task of deciding whether or not to terminate a sentient super-human creation.






Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Luke Scott

Starring: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rose Leslie, Paul Giamatti, Toby Jones, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Brian Cox, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michael Yare



For a long stretch Morgan plays out like a poor man's Ex Machina, until a final act that descends into a by the numbers slasher movie, topped off with a final twist so obvious you'll likely have figured it out from the trailer, and probably dismissed it as too blatant.



Sci-fi thriller Morgan is so predictable its director's name is practically a spoiler. Luke Scott is the son of Ridley, and having served as an assistant director on his father's last two films, Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Martian, now makes the leap to megaphone wielder. His directorial debut takes the central themes of Scott Senior's masterpiece, Blade Runner, and dumbs them down for a movie that resembles the sort of ensemble sci-fi horrors that enjoyed brief popularity back in the '90s - movies like Species and Deep Blue Sea. Difference being, those movies were fun. Morgan has little to say, and says it all with a straight face.



Kate Mara plays Lee Weathers, a stuffy corporate drone for a shady firm involved in the creation of super-humans, the latest prototype of which, Morgan (The Witch's breakout star, Anya Taylor-Joy), has recently committed an 'error', exploding in a sudden violent rage that resulted in a scientist (Jennifer Jason Leigh) losing an eye. It's always fun and games until someone loses an eye.

It's up to Lee to assess whether or not Morgan can be considered a sentient lifeform, and thus afforded the same rights as a human, or if she can be terminated without ruining anyone's sleep.



Lee faces opposition from the scientists who created Morgan, and who have subsequently come to think of her as their child. They all inform Lee, and the audience, that Morgan is indeed a human, but the film doesn't back this up with enough evidence. Whenever we spend time with Morgan she's gouging eyeballs, breaking the necks of woodland animals and tearing out throats, so the choice is as clear cut for us as it is for Lee.

The 'scientists' of Morgan are of that face-in-palm dumb variety you only find in poorly written sci-fi movies, none more dense than Paul Giamatti's doctor, who insists on going out of his way to wind up Morgan, knowing full well it will likely result in an explosion of rage on her part.



Morgan's opening acts are built around the theme of 'what constitutes life?', a question that's become prescient in 2016 with the debate around abortion rearing its head in many western nations, and of course that bloody Harambe debate that refuses to go away. The film refuses to commit to an interesting study of this topic though, and for a long stretch Morgan plays out like a poor man's Ex Machina, until a final act that descends into a by the numbers slasher movie, topped off with a final twist so obvious you'll likely have figured it out from the trailer, and probably dismissed it as too blatant. 

What's most frustrating about the twist is how it imparts information that would have made the movie far more suspenseful had we been offered it up front. In this respect, Morgan is an unwanted throwback to the dark days of late noughties M Night Shyamalan, a movie with nothing to offer save for a twist only its creator seems impressed by.

Morgan is in cinemas September 2nd.




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