Director Luke Scott
Screenplay Seth Owen
Starring Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Giamatti, Brian Cox
Luke Scott has directed several sub features of his films associated with his father. One is a Ted Talk demonstration of the inventor Peter Weyland as an introduction to the film Prometheus. Some others include Nexus Dawn and Nowhere to Run, which are companion pieces to Blade Runner 2049. Then there’s this film, which feels like a prelude to all of the above.
Morgan takes place during the clean up of a variant of the L-4 project. After a synthetic life form (Taylor-Joy) is introduced to the outside world, it goes a little mad. The doctors involved make as many excuses as they can for this, their third attempt at this new synthetic. They want to teach the variant how to appreciate the “consequences” of their actions. The scientists / doctors feel like a collection of cult members, with Morgan as their object of worship. They have a challenge distinguishing the difference between the description of the project as “it” and “she.”
The corporation sends a risk management specialist named Lee Weathers (Mara) to make the final analysis of the cost / benefit of the project. One of the doctors (Leigh) who is recovering from injuries suffered at the hands of Morgan sees, in her medicated state, that Weathers is “an assassin.”
An outside psychologist (Giamatti) is brought in to analyze Morgan. His somewhat unconventional approach opens up the floodgates of a torrent of chaos within Morgan. The film spends the rest of its time letting the chaos unravel.
The stable of actors involved within Morgan is muted by its execution. Oscar caliber actors are given so little to do as to make them almost incidental to the myopic scope of the story. The result is a well considered premise that is more action than an actual developed story. Then when in the midst of the action, the decisions made seem almost arbitrary and often non-sensical.
The story feels incomplete, more an opening act than anything. We are made to wonder about the prospects of the A.I. created in an interesting way, but before we can ask questions, the project is dissolved into a chaotic mess. How in the world, within all of the chaos, can one relegate Morgan’s “mother” Yeoh to not even use the skills for which she is most well known?
The film doesn’t hold up, but with perhaps a bit more story, it’s premise could be really something. As part of a bigger project, this works. On its own, it flounders. The mind wants to connect the L-4 project to replicants, and then to the Alien Universe’s David, Ash and Bishop. It’s a film that never really escapes first gear.
(**1/2 out of *****)