Morgan is the answer to the question “what if we made a genre flick out of Ex_Machina?” This is not necessarily a bad question, as there have been plenty of thoughtful movies that have also had action and horror elements in them, but given how intelligently Villeneuve explored themes of objectification and manipulation in that film, Morgan is inevitably doomed to be, like its eponymous central non-human character, neither fish nor fowl.
Morgan (the character, played by The Witch‘s breakout Anya Taylor-Joy) is a synthetic person being kept under observation by her makers. When she stabs one of the team in the eye, she is confined to a cell, and the corporation* financing the project sends an investigator (Kate Mara) to the remote lab. While setup and payoff are the meat and potatoes of cinema, this movie so blatantly telegraphs every event in the story, including its “twist” (it’s obvious almost instantly), that you’re mostly wondering when it’s getting to the bit you’ve predicted will happen.
With a truly excellent cast, including Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Yeoh, Paul Giamatti, Rose Leslie and Toby Jones, and Luke Scott (son of Ridley) in the director’s chair, the movie cannot be described as poorly made. It’s perfectly competent and relatively engaging but it’s as dumb as a bag of rocks. Where Ex_Machina pits grotesque masculinity against an alien intelligence using wily feminine tactics, Morgan just pits two very attractive women against each other in some intense fight scenes. Morgan seems to realise, like its namesake, that there are questions that it demands answers to, but it decides to ignore them and just get on with the killing.
Morgan is inessential fluff, but not unpleasant or cringe-inducing. If you like disposable sci-fi/horror/action type shelf-filler, you could do a lot worse. If you haven’t seen Ex_Machina, skip Morgan and see that instead.
*If you consider the lineage of the director, and you’re a Ridley Scott fanboy, you might see this as an addition to the Blade Runner universe. The corporation in question is never named, but given the plot it’s hard not to imagine it belongs to a certain Doctor Eldon Tyrell.
Morgan – Available to buy and rent on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD on February 15.