Although there’s nothing so wrong with Morgan that I would have discouraged you from seeing it in theaters when it was released last September, it makes a good case now for a movie better recommended you watch at home. What I mean is, what may have been a “meh” movie on the big screen when all the expenses of seeing it are considered, may be a “wow, that’s pretty good” movie in the comfort of your own living room.
Its biggest flaw for me is the inevitable comparison to the movie that preceded it by 17 months, Ex Machina. However, since I didn’t like Ex Machina, this is also its biggest asset for me. Where that one was the thinking man’s hard-core science fiction, this one is sci-fi light, with a fast pace, focus on action and suspense, and just a touch of horror. For me, Morgan was infinitely more entertaining than what came before it.
In an isolated laboratory in the wilderness, there has been an incident with Morgan, a five-year old manufactured human who looks like the 20-year old Anya Taylor-Joy from The Witch. She’s… excuse me, it’s… not a completely “artificial intelligence,” though. It was created from a combination of synthetic DNA and nanotechnology and was born live as a baby. When denied a trip to the lake, Morgan leaps onto a table and stabs Dr. Kathy Grieff (Jennifer Jason Leigh) repeatedly in the eye.
“Corporate” sends risk management analyst Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) to investigate with a top-secret directive. I had a problem with this directive. En route, the voice of Jim Bryce (Brian Cox) tells her, above all, to protect their asset. He also shares that the scientists are expendable because, during the seven years of the experiment, they may have grown too close to both Morgan and each other. I expected Weathers to assassinate the staff and retrieve Morgan.
However, when Morgan jumps on the table again to attack psychologist Dr. Alan Shapiro (Paul Giamatti), Weathers is the first in line to supervise its deactivation while everyone else tries to whisk it away to safety. I’ve dropped some names along the way, so you can see Morgan has a great cast. It is consistently good from top to bottom, including Rose Leslie, Michael Yare, Toby Jones, Chris Sullivan, Boyd Holbrook, Vinette Robinson and Michelle Yeoh.
The other problem I had with the movie is that I knew from an early moment the ending screenwriter Seth W. Owen would like to have been a twist. I don’t want to reveal it here, but I spent the entire movie looking for clues to validate my hypothesis. With that perspective, they were entirely too obvious and I wasn’t rewarded with the self-satisfaction of having figured it out myself. It’s good, but it was just too predictable for me. If not for you, you’ll enjoy the movie more.
Morgan is beautifully-filmed, showing promise from first-time feature director Luke Scott. It’s tight, never dragging, with a 92-minute running time, perhaps the biggest difference between this movie and one of his father’s, Ridley. The Blu-ray includes commentary by Scott, one of his short films (Loom), deleted scenes, and a special feature called “Modified Organism: The Science Behind Morgan.” I don’t know if I would have recommended Morgan in theaters, but I do in its home video package.