A group of scientists have artificially created a humanoid hybrid. Everything was going as planned until the humanoid, named Morgan, violently attacked one of the scientists. The corporation in charge decides to send a risk management analyst, Lee Weathers, to the remote site of the experiment. Her job is to determine whether or not Morgan should be terminated. During her investigation it becomes clear that Morgan is much too dangerous, and she is just getting started.
This is a film I feel very conflicted about. Immediately after seeing the film, my initial reaction was that it was great and I loved it. There is a lot to like about the film. Morgan is a great scifi thriller that keeps your attention and the plot was compelling. I also enjoyed when important bits of information were divulged in a variety of different ways, such as flashbacks and security camera footage, so it wasn’t one linear story. There were also many moments of calm that were broken by bloody violence. These were some of my favorite moments because the film makes a point of emphasizing that Morgan is still a child. When you see her commit these acts of extreme violence it’s shocking and beautiful, much like when you watch a wolf hunt a deer.
When looking at the character development, the only characters that didn’t feel like they were “phoned in” were Morgan, Lee Weathers, and the behaviorist, Dr. Amy Menser. The rest of the scientists felt a bit forced. There were a few big name actors in minor roles where we as the audience are made to simply assume their connection and love for Morgan. The film would have been just fine without many of the scientists, and with lesser known actors.
My biggest problem is I can think of two films that came out within the past two years that are strikingly similar to Morgan. Those films are The Hybrid (2014) and Ex Machina (2015). All three films feature an experiment in some kind of underground bunker, the experiment is a humanoid hybrid or has a human appearance, and the experiment will do whatever it takes to get out of the confines of its underground prison. While there are differences between all of these films that make them unique, it is hard for me to look past the similarities when judging the plot. I will say that Morgan had a bit more of a unique ending compared to the other two films. Without giving too much away, the way Morgan ended was similar to how I thought Ex Machina was going to end. Yet with Morgan it was something I didn’t see coming until the last 15 minutes of the film.
One of the best aspects of this film was the acting. Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) gave another knock-out performance in her second leading role in a major motion picture. Taylor-Joy plays Morgan in such a way that you at once both sympathize with her and fear her. Morgan is not fully human, and Taylor-Joy does an excellent job of emphasizing this fact at the perfect times. Kate Mara (Fantastic Four, The Martian) was also outstanding as Lee Weathers. She is a bit cold and robotic, but it worked perfectly for the character of Lee because she is a very calculating and analytical person. The surprise performance in this film was Paul Giamatti (Sideways, Straight Outta Compton). He plays the psychologist the corporation brings in to analyze Morgan. Giamatti has a very small role in the film, but he brings such a powerful performance to the role that he stands out in your mind, even after the film ends.
Morgan is a film that grabs your attention and makes you question whose side you want to be on. While it may not have the most original plot, and other films may have done a better job with that plot, it is still a great film. Setting aside some of the lesser unnecessary characters, the two lead actresses bring such power and elegance to the film. If you focus solely on Taylor-Joy and Mara, then this film exceeds expectations. Unfortunately, I have to also factor in the plot and the somewhat sloppily written scientists. It is a film I would definitely watch again, and recommend to fans of the scifi thriller genre, but there are many ways in which it could improve.
OVERALL RATING: 7.5/10