I still haven’t a clue as to why there’s been such a resurgence in films based on the hypothetical risks and benefits of artificial intelligence. Alex Garland did a pretty bang-up job with Ex Machina last year, creating something as esoteric and thoughtful as it was thrilling. What Morgan is presupposing is that maybe it’s time to close up the well in the genre, or at least leave it to people better suited. This is a thriller haphazardly disguised as sci-fi, all leading to the same boilerplate pseudo-philosophical revelation that humans’ god complex can only bring ruin.
Corporate risk consultant Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) is sent to a remote location to survey Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy), the being produced by a team of scientists. Morgan’s been getting violent lately, causing Weathers to be dispatched to determine whether or not she should be terminated. Of course, the scientists don’t take kindly to their brainchild being threatened.
Luke Scott, son of Ridley, makes his feature directorial debut with Morgan. Scott seems to have a firm grip on exactly what kind of movie this is supposed to be. Unfortunately, the man has an incredibly heavy hand. Visual cues clue you into the big twist and the characters are barely more than plot motivations. All of the performers—who are way more talented to serve up this kind of dry material—are reduced to sullen and monotone caricatures influenced by action. I doubt the intent was to make everyone in the cast seem artificial.
Morgan’s sleight of hand is exactly that: slighted. Scott and Co. think what they’re making here is something terrifically clever. You can tell by how Morgan herself outwits all of the humans at every turn. What they didn’t seem to anticipate was that people can see through their obvious deceit, knowing well that their view of these characters are unsympathetic, so therefore these people are susceptible to crippling at the hands of their creation. The story of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster, albeit really good, has clearly spawned way too many fast and loose adaptations.
The talented cast barely crawl out of this thing alive. Toby Jones shows up as one of the head scientists, forever protecting his creation from the outside world. One that, in his eyes, won’t welcome it/her with open arms. His eccentricity in most of his roles is beaten down by the material, reduced to someone seemingly reading from a teleprompter. Paul Giamatti even arrives for a climactic scene, playing the cinematic equivalent of a weak cattle prod; those actors both being gears in a clunky machine.
There’s a weird deception being done by the film’s marketing campaign, as well. The main query on the posters being: “What is Morgan?” Well folks, the answer is here: Just another tired and witless attempt at studying something filmmakers can’t seem to grapple with. In some ways, Morgan resembles a misguided thesis—influenced by an interesting concept, but brought down by the creator’s own ego and id. Please stop.