Film Review: MORGAN (USA 2016). Starring: Kate Mara, Paul Giamatti

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MORGAN (USA 2016) **
Directed by Luke Scott

Starring: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Rose Leslie

Review by Gilbert Seah

MORGAN is the new sci-fi thriller not to be confused with the 1966 British comedy by Karel Reisz also called MORGAN or in full : MORGAN: A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT. The Morgan in the new film is also another case for treatment being a female created by a group of scientists.

MORGAN (Anya Taylor-Joy) is not like any other girl. Created and raised in a laboratory environment by a group of over-dedicated scientists, she defies nature with her super-human qualities. But do not push her beyond the limit! Walking and talking within one month and self-sufficient after just six, her rapid progression is remarkable, exceeding the expectations of her creators. But nothing ever goes as well as planned. There is a vicious accident. After Morgan has a “tantrum” in which she viciously attacks and injures one of the scientists (Jennifer Jason Leigh taking as much abuse here as she did in Tarantino’s THE HATEFUL EIGHT), corporate troubleshooter Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) is called in to make the ultimate choice of “terminating” Morgan or letting her live before she causes anymore havoc and escapes into the outside world. Her decision is to terminate Morgan but the scientists protect Morgan.

The script by Seth Owen and direction by Luke Scott is tight and well paced during the first two thirds of the film. The film is always one step ahead of what is revealed to the audience and this is where the film works best. No one knows what to expect – except for the last third of the film. An excellent cameo from Paul Giamatti helps spice up the tension. The inclusion of Michelle Yeoh and Toby Jones in the ensemble cast also adds to the excitement of the film. A neat segment involving Mandarin dialogue (Michele Yeoh is Malaysian Chinese) also works well.
For a film written and directed by males, it is interesting to see how females are depicted. They are either strong and forceful as in Weather’s character or a crying quivering mess as in Dr, Amy Menser (Rose Leslie), Morgan’s friend. The females are all sexy looking in different forms – fighting, vulnerable or smart. The eye candy for the female audience is provide by hunk Boyd Holbrook playing another doctor, who makes an unsuccessful pass at Weathers.

It is only in the last 15 minutes that the film starts to fall apart. Once Lee starts fighting Morgan and ends up indestructible, it becomes an easy guess to the twist in the story. It does not take a gnus to figure things out. That is when all the mystery and intrigue are lost in predictability.

Given the story’s limited potential, it has to be taken it to a predictable conclusion. Director Scott fares pretty well with the material. MORGAN is absorbing for the most part and provides sufficient thrills for the typical sci-fi thriller. The film has a beautiful setting, where the scientific facility is located, the film being shot in Northern Ireland.

MORGAN is up for stiff competition a week opening after DON’T BREATHE which caters for the same male target audience. Given its differentiation from a horror flick, MORGAN should do well enough at the box-office.

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