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.
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 superhuman development in her five years of life. 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.
Anya Taylor-Joy does a great job portraying Morgan as an emotionally confused yet dangerous teenager (so basically every teenage girl). She truly steals every scene that she is in. 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.
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 Anya Taylor-Joy, delivering a solid performance. 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.
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