“How are you feeling, Morgan?” asks Lee Weathers (Kate Mara). “I’m feeling not quite myself,” says Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy). The “Corporation” has sent Weathers to a secret, isolated laboratory to determine if Morgan — aka “the Asset” — is dangerous. Five years since her creation, Morgan is the Corporation’s most refined hybrid-synthetic life-form and, as lead scientist, Dr. Simon Ziegler (Toby Jones), says, “We knew right away Morgan was very special — exactly what we hoped for, but we need to teach her about actions and consequences.” Morgan has viciously stabbed staff member Dr. Kathy Grieff (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in her left eye.
Is Morgan a threat to the “L9-Morgan Project”? What is Lee Weathers’ corporate-assigned protocol? Does this sci-fi story seem familiar? It should.
Kate Mara and Anya Taylor-Joy play principal roles in this sci-fi thriller. As Lee Weathers, Mara is a physically fit, taciturn, no-nonsense character. She carries a gun, but we don’t know what she intends for enigmatic Morgan, whose backstory the film reveals, piece by piece. “You need help, Morgan,” says Weathers. “I don’t need help, I’m beginning to feel like myself,” Morgan says. “I know why they made me.”
Others in the strong cast include Toby Jones as ego-involved Dr. Simon Ziegler, Michelle Yeoh as Dr. Lui Cheng, whom Morgan calls “mother,” and Chris Sullivan and Vinette Robinson as Dr’s Darren and Brenda Finch. Jennifer Jason Leigh and Paul Giamatti have cameos as Dr’s Kathy Grieff and Alan Shapiro. Rose Leslie is Morgan’s “friend,” Dr. Amy Menser.
“Morgan,” directed by Luke Scott (Ridley’s son), from Seth W. Owen’s script, draws on cautionary tales that go back — at least – to Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” published in 1818. In these tales, scientists reanimate — or create — life forms which science cannot control. Creations turn on their creators. It’s a familiar story, told many times, often better than “Morgan.” For a recent film example, watch Alex Garland’s excellent “Ex Machina” (2015). In “Morgan,” the setup is intriguing, performances are compelling (except Giamatti’s over-the-top cameo), but Seth Owen’s story falls apart in Act 3, morphing into a standard action thriller — lots of gun play, a car chase and slug fests — although, this time, between female characters.
Rated R for brutal violence and some language, “Morgan” runs 92 minutes. For Anya Taylor-Joy’s fine acting in a smarter film, watch last year’s visually convincing, historical drama “The Witch.” If you see “Morgan,” talk about its last scene on the way home.
Don’t make synthetic life,
Its consequences fail —
That’s “Morgan’s” story,
A familiar sci-fi tale.