Morgan (2016) Review

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers, I’m telling you now so you don’t pretend to be outraged later.

Hey, I Have an Idea! Let’s create a synthetic human in a lab and then teach it not to murder everything in its sight, what could possibly go wrong? This may seem like a stupid idea in 2016 but you better believe people still think this is a good one after years of trial and mostly error. We’re supposed to assume that scientists are vastly smarter than us common folk when it comes to such things like common sense and critical thinking. Yet when it comes to creating life, they are seemly the biggest idiots in the room. You think after the body count has reached double digits that it would be their cue to cut their losses and declare their experiment a failure. Unfortunately, the people in this film operate under the “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again” motto. So try, try again as we take a trip to Dumbass Island and dig into the origin of Morgan.

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Morgan begins with a surveillance video of a young girl stabbing a woman in the eye repeatedly while she screams in great pain. Get used to these screams, they happen often. Corporate risk management officer Lee Weathers played by Kate Mara is called in to assess whether they should continue the Morgan project or terminate her. Jennifer Jason Leigh plays the attacked scientist and looks as well as she did in The Hateful Eight. Lee meets the entire team who all try to convince her that despite the violent outburst, that they should continue the Morgan project against common sense.

I guess it goes without saying that the scientists are unlikable idiots. You have Domestic Violence Barbie, Hannibal Buress, Zack from Saved by the Bell, The Grandfather of Hydra, Mr. and Mrs. Cannon Fodder, and Lesbian Kristen Stewart…or Kristen Stewart. They are led by the “mother” of Morgan played by Michelle Yeoh. They explain to Lee their past and present failures in trying to create an intelligent engineered human. Morgan is the one project they have advanced the furthest with. She has displayed rapid emotional and super human development in her five years of life. Lee, however, is unimpressed and wants to meet with Morgan one on one. The story is centered on Mara’s character and for good reason. She is all business and doesn’t allow emotion to get in the way of her work, basically, she’s the only rational person in this film. Being rational doesn’t allow her to have must depth or emotion. You want to root for her being the only one with a brain but as a character, she doesn’t give you much to root for.

The movie takes a turn for the worst when corporate psychologist played by Paul Giamatti shows up. He comes in to analyze Morgan and make a recommendation if she should be terminated or not. Despite already knowing that Morgan has already viciously attacked someone days earlier, he decides to do a one on one interview with her in a sealed room and provokes her into removing his throat from his body, because you know, he’s great at his job. This scene is actually the most tension driven in the film and changes the dynamic of the movie. Anya Taylor-Joy does a great job portraying Morgan as an emotional confused yet dangerous teenager (so basically every teenage girl). For a newcomer, she truly steals every scene that she is in. After the death of the psychologist, the decision is made that Morgan must be killed as she is too dangerous. The scientists strap her to a table and proceed to commit her to lethal injection. When given the opportunity to put away this murderous bio-human, the smartest people in the room decide to let her live due to their emotional attachment to her. Morgan then shows her gratitude for sparing her life by murdering all of them to death.

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Pacing is one of Morgan’s biggest problems. The film is so slow and monotone in the first two acts that it’s really boring and tough to follow. The film doesn’t add any real interesting elements to the story to gauge interest for the viewers. The closest thing to character development you get is a weird lesbian vibe Morgan and the team’s behavioral psychologist played by Rose Leslie. It’s weird because there is supposed to be some type of romantic connection between the two but Morgan is still a teenager and Amy hasn’t seen her teenage years since Jessica Simpson was still a thing.  The film is so bland and vanilla you forget that Ridley Scott is producing this film. Everything was pretty forgettable up until the ending where they bring in a twist right at the very end. After successfully killing all the scientists, Morgan and Amy retreat to the lake which is the only location that keeps her calm. Lee and Morgan have a cinematic fight that leaves Lee impaled and seemly dead. Lee comes back out of nowhere and finally manages to kill Morgan along with anyone else involved with the project. It turns out Lee Weathers was an artificially created being herself sent down by ‘corporate’ to access the new weapon.

While I thoroughly enjoyed the twist at the end, it wasn’t enough to save the overall stupidity with the film. Morgan is sold as a horror film but it’s about as scary as receiving a cable bill in the mail. Credit where credit is due to newcomer Anya_Taylor-Joy, delivering a solid performance in her first major role. Big names like Paul Giamatti and Jennifer Jason Leigh are criminally underused in their roles. Kate Mara does a good enough job but the material doesn’t allow her much of a range which causes her performance to fall flat. Morgan is your typical mad scientist meet dumb logic scary movie. If only someone could have made the story more interesting and better utilized its talented cast. Instead, Morgan just becomes another wasted opportunity in the world of Sci-fi Horror.

OFFICIAL RATING: **

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