– By J.W. Fox –
Morgan sports a talented cast plus the backing of sci-fi legend Ridley Scott (credited as a producer), yet its writer/director team are a pair of relative newbies. Director Luke Scott and Writer Seth W. Owen must have some powerful friends to secure this kind of talent for their first major project. With a compelling premise, the film definitely starts off on a strong foot but, sadly, is unable to execute anything after the table is set.
Lee Weathers is a risk management consultant sent to a remote corporate lab to determine the viability of a covert genetics experiment. The company is concerned after the subject, named Morgan, abruptly attacks a scientist with a knife. Morgan is an engineered being whose exact purpose is unknown. Lee must get past a cagey, paranoid research team to determine if Morgan is everything they claim it to be.
A classic Frankenstein story, utilizing genetics, nanites, and accelerated aging. Only, it takes a long time to figure out exactly why Morgan was engineered in the first place. Writer Seth W. Owen decided to keep the exact purpose and nature of the titular character a secret, which was frustrating. Without the “why”, a lot of the events that follow are hard to follow. Lee refers to Morgan as an it, which means they do not see Morgan as anything beyond a piece of intellectual property. Most of the research team feels differently, which creates some intra-company friction right away.
The movie takes a turn away from sci-fi thriller to horror about halfway through with a pretty abrupt, awkward transition. All the philosophical themes present early in the movie were completely discarded in favor of blood and gore. To make matters worse, it wasn’t even a good horror flick. My blood was pumping for a few scenes but Morgan never got me to jump out of my seat. Not even close.
The casting and performances in the movie were actually pretty well done. Kate Mara does a tremendous job as the creepily stoic Lee Weathers. She spoke very little and maintains an immovable expression and poise. Without saying or doing much, you get the impression she is a powerful figure in the company, not one to be trifled with. Paul Giamatti plays a psychiatrist sent to examine Morgan, but the role was too small for someone of his talent. Game of Thrones fans get to see Rose Leslie (played the wildling redhead Ygritte) in an eccentric scientist role. With the exception of Dr. Ziegler, played by another talented actor by the name of Toby Jones, the scientists really aren’t that interesting and add little to the movie.
It felt like there were some important scenes or dialogue left on the editing floor. For example, there is reference to an incident in Helsinki that is never explained. Morgan is also somewhat of a mystery. Most of her dialogue is mechanical and felt lifted from other Frankenstein stories. A little more from her would’ve also helped this movie out.
I cannot recommend Morgan. It just doesn’t have enough of anything to justify spending $12 at the theater or whatever streaming services charge for it.
Jacob Foxx is the Editor of Prescientscifi.com and author of two novels: The Fifth World and the sequel The Fifth World: The Times That Try Men’s Souls. When he is not reading or writing science fiction, he works as a regulatory affairs consultant for small biotech companies in Raleigh, North Carolina.