For its glossy look, talented cast, and hints at mystery, Morgan sooner or later – likely sooner – reveals itself to have no idea what’s it’s doing, a sci-fi film without meaning, passion, or intrigue.
It’s unfortunate too as this film from Luke Scott has some curious pieces to work with. A group of scientists sheltered in a mansion and laboratory in some unknown forest have created an artificial life, a human hybrid that they’ve come to see as a daughter and a friend. These specimen, named Morgan (AnaTaylor-Joy) has some special, ill-defined abilities, including it seems insight into one’s mind and some powerful physical skills. Ill-defined actually pops up a lot when describing this film, as the story goes in whatever direction is convenient. Ominous music also helps sell tension.
Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) is sent by corporate masters to investigate the viability of the project, and she encounters a group of people who seem pretty invested and definitely apologetic for Morgan, even as she attacked a woman and repeatedly stabbed her in the eye. I guess you start to develop feelings for something you’ve created in a lab.
They’re a mostly annoying group – though it’s hard to discern who the movie wants you to like. Leigh is exceedingly proper and cold, but the scientists are overly folksy and defensive, like a bunch of kids at camp who have their own thing going on. They’re not really scientists; they’re parents, and they think they’ve the best child in the world.
Morgan is after all sweet, and in five years has aged quickly to become a teenager with some occasionally anger issues. She holes up listening to opera music, wears hoodies, and tries to say the right thing at the right time. But it’s all for naught: neither she nor the audience can be saved.
Weathers, with the help of a belligerent psychologist (a temporary Paul Giamatti), test Morgan and push her to her limits, and not surprisingly, this Thing that science has created is now out of control.
Though beautiful, and featuring a bevy of talent, Morgan carries with it unearned confidence that just comes across as dumb. It’s not a story that knows what it wants to be, nor is it one that has the payoff it tries to set up. Derivations from any number of much better films are on display, and any twist or turns are telecast pretty easily.
Any curious conversations about life and power and responsibility and ethics and all that are thrown out the window during a chaotic final act that turns the film into a bloody action flick. There is no point, but also no stakes. Some characters aren’t particularly likeable, while others simply aren’t interesting. Morgan isn’t the only one who longs to escape.