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Cottonwood Heights Journal

Dan's Review: Lazy storytelling dooms "Morgan"

Sep 02, 2016 03:43PM ● By Dan Metcalf

Kate Mara and Anya Taylor-Joy in Morgan - © 2016 20th Century Fox.

Morgan (20th Century Fox)

Rated R for brutal violence, and some language.

Starring Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Giamatti, Chris Sullivan, Vinette Robinson, Michael Yare, Crispian Belfrage, Jonathan Aris, Michael Connolly, Brian Cox, Amybeth McNulty.

Written by Seth Owen.

Directed by Luke Scott.



Dystopian futures are becoming the norm in science fiction films. You’d think all the optimism fostered by Gene Roddenberry and his Star Trek band might have rubbed off a little more, but it seems like most filmmakers of the genre don’t have much faith in the future of mankind (or alienkind, if you prefer). You can add Luke Scott (son of Alien and Blade Runner director Ridley Scott) to the list of filmmakers who lean toward the “we are all doomed” view of the future (at least in cinema), with his helming of Morgan, the story of a failed biology experiment.

The story begins at a “secret lab” deep in the woods where a corporate bioengineering firm has created a human clone using a combination of genetics and electronic manipulation. The staff grows to love the young woman named Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) and raises her as they would a human child. All that changes when Morgan starts exhibiting bursts of violence, starting with an injured deer in the forest and eventually one of the staffers (Jennifer Jason Leigh). A “risk manager” named Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) is dispatched to the site, where she begins to investigate Morgan and the staffers. Things get out of hand when Dr. Shapiro (Paul Giamatti) shows up and interviews Morgan. His harsh tactics trigger Morgan’s violent side once more, prompting Lee to shut down the experiment. Morgan doesn’t take the news of her demise lying down, and chaos ensues.

Morgan has the look a clever science fiction film (like Alex Garland’s superb Ex Machina), but it’s not much more than stylistic copy of other dark movies.  The cast (especially Mara and Giamatti) is not the problem here. The real issue lies in a lazy script that telegraphs the film’s outcome in the first few minutes. Besides the sluggish storytelling, Morgan also avoids any chance for ethical reflection or moral dilemma. It’s a simple tale of how one corporation might deal with a minor rodent problem or warehouse fire. Nothing to see here, but just look at how cool our lab looks.

Morgan is a waste of time and talent.

Morgan Trailer