A well-intentioned, though not entirely successful debut venture from Luke Scott (son of Alien director Ridley Scott, for those of you playing along at home) Morgan is more a shallow version of Ex-Machina than the slick sci-fi character study it so clearly desires to be.
The titular Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy, maintaining her genre score-card with this, The Witch, and Split) is a genetically modified life form who is aging at a rapid rate and showcasing signals of advanced intelligence and strength. It’s her psychological well-being that is proving the most questionable though, as a recent denial of request to travel outsider her enclosure resulted in Morgan stabbing the eye of one of her caretakers (Jennifer Jason-Leigh in a brief support stint) has raised some serious concerns.
With plans on shutting the project (aka Morgan) down, the big wig in charge (Brian Cox) sends in his right-hand woman, Lee Weathers (Kate Mara), to oversee the current progress and report back on whether or not Morgan is an investment worth the continued funding. The workers at the facility housing Morgan greet Lee with an icy reception – only fitting given that’s her vibe also – as they have all grown rather protective of their project, some even viewing Morgan as a daughter of sorts. It’s only the team leader (Michelle Yeoh) who understands Lee’s position, with a previous experiment-gone-bad situation alluded to in her past.
It’s quite evident where Morgan is going to travel once Taylor-Joy and Mara come to a head, and the intrigue that is generated at the start of the film is sadly discarded for a more traditional action film, complete with stock characters who all act more foolish than their occupations would allow. It also doesn’t help that Mara’s supposed heroine gives off a colder vibe than that of Taylor-Joy’s Morgan, making her a little harder to root for as the film descends into a hybrid of combat-come-cat-and-mouse chase thriller between the two femmes.
Despite its ultimate simplicity as a sci-fi actioner, Morgan is still a commendable effort. At 90 minutes it refuses to overstay its welcome, the visuals are supremely slick, and the above-average support cast (Leslie Rose, Toby Jones, and Paul Giamatti, to name a few) lend a certain credibility to proceedings. Fans craving something fresh are likely to turn away, and it certainly isn’t the kind of film that demands instant attention, but if you need something light that will pass the time (perhaps on Netflix, where this film feels like it will appear more comfortably) you can do worse than a visit with Morgan.
Film Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
As for the special features supplied on the Blu-Ray, Morgan‘s packaging is alarming given the cinematic bypassing it received in Australia, off the back-end of a paltry Box Office run in the US. An audio commentary from director Luke Scott is perhaps the most surprising extra, though it’s unfortunately rather dull and uninteresting save for a few behind the scenes tidbits detailing his creative process.
Given his largely boring comments, it’s a welcome additive to view Scott’s short film Loom. Starring Giovanni Ribisi, Scott’s promise as a filmmaker is evident with this feature that is only included on the Blu-Ray release.
Modified Organism is a 20-minute semi-making-of feature that looks at both the science behind the plot and the ethical issues that the film potentially raises. A miniscule selection of deleted scenes, a pointless still gallery, and the theatrical trailer round the rest of the playlist out.
Special Features Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)