Morgan online movie review - Uncharacteristically Shallow, but Still an Entertaining Watch
Morgan is a genetically engineered human being, of sorts. It could be argued she is artificial intelligence as her development is augmented by a little nano cell that works it's way in and changes her genetic make-up.
She is the third experiment, and the first to grow to full term, and as such her scientists and handlers have grown attached to her like parents. Unfortunately there's an incident that leaves one of her handlers without an eye, so the business that funds the research and development send in their "Risk Management Consultant" to evaluate the situation and ensure any necessary measures are enacted.
The film spends a little time developing it's characters and the situation, but the second and third acts are almost indistinguishable as it cascades at break-neck speed to it's conclusion, giving the film a feeling of being rushed along. The development we do get is a little lacklustre as well, maybe in large part due to not being given enough time. Once everything kicks off, it becomes a display of smart people being stupid, meaningless deaths, and a cat and mouse chase between Lee and Morgan. There's no deeper subtext or message here either, which makes this low-key sci-fi feel a bit empty. All the ingredients are there for a deep and engaging commentary on artificial intelligence or corporate interference or familial relationships, but all of these things are just lightly touched upon and never developed.
Despite this, what it does touch upon does enough to make you empathise with the scientists, particularly Amy, the behaviourist, and Dr. Ziegler, who have grown most attached to their subject. There's also mention of romantic relationships developing between doctors Darren and Brenda Finch, and them considering Morgan their child, although Darren is the only one of the two who really shows much of an attachment at all. In a way, all the stupid decisions of these scientists could be explained as being blinded by love for their creation. No-one wants to harm their children, and being cruel to be kind is tough, but this doesn't really excuse the lack of common sense displayed.
The film's biggest sin was showing far too much in the trailers. Almost all the development is succinctly summarised in those two minutes, and most of the action is spoiled as well. For instance, Morgan goes into the house and says she has to say goodbye to Mother, referring to Dr. Cheng, but we already know the outcome of that from the trailer. Similarly, Lee and Morgan are chasing each other in cars down a country lane and bashing into each other, but we already saw Lee's Mercedes crash into a tree in the trailer, so again we already know the result of that conflict. I don't want to start avoiding trailers for movies, because I still think they're the best judge of a movie's potential, and I tend to treat them with a grain of salt anyway due to how they can be misrepresented, but Morgan makes me rethink that stance.
That said, there are still a number of surprises in store, not least the big twist at the end. Yes, there's a twist at the end that encourages you to rethink the whole ninety minutes previously. Unfortunately it ultimately falls flat. First and foremost, it's not exactly a hidden twist. It's not spelled out throughout the movie, but what subtle hints we did get were enough to put the puzzle pieces together. I pegged it somewhere around the second act. Secondly, it just leaves the ending open to more questions while ignoring that this might be a problem. 'Here's a twist, Oh yeah! Wow! Credits...Wait, how does that work exactly?' I don't want to spoil it, but you'll know what I mean when you see it for yourself.
Acting is actually pretty great though. The obvious star of the movie is Anya Taylor-Joy who manages to balance the emotional innocence of Morgan with her somewhat artificial nature without over-doing one or the other. She's obviously not human, even when exhibiting human emotions, but she doesn't appear to force it or look awkward doing it either. Kate Mara is quite good as the cold and somewhat emotionless Risk Management Consultant, Lee. But for me, it was Toby Jones as Dr. Ziegler and Rose Leslie as Amy who really shone and acted as great supports for Anya. It's the acting performances of Jones and Leslie that gives these characters so much development and eeks sympathy from the audience. Brian Cox, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Giamatti and the rest of the cast all do really well as well, but aren't really given much opportunity to dig into their characters and show us who they are. Cox and Giamatti in particular are just glorified cameos.
Don't get me wrong, you could do worse than Morgan when picking a movie to watch, and I am definitely glad I watched it. It's teeming with potential that is just never fully realised. On it's own terms, as a tight thriller of a genetically engineered human seeing red, it is quite entertaining, and it's lack of depth allows the audience to just sit back and enjoy the ride. I enjoyed it, but it's far from anything special. I give it a good 7/10.