For Ridley Scott the apple seems to have not fallen far from the tree. The respected director’s son, Luke Scott, has made his directorial debut and for what it’s worth, it’s a good looking movie that- in stretches- channels Ridley’s work. However, that apple’s got a big ugly worm slithering it’s way around somewhere as Luke’s debut flick, Morgan, shows signs of a filmmaker with significant growing pains to work through.
Morgan starts off well enough as we are introduced to corporate risk analyst, Lee (Kate Mara). She’s been assigned to assess the viability of a top secret project in the boonies, Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy), a genetically altered human with violent tendencies awaiting a psyche evaluation that may influence Lee’s course of action- aka whether or not she will terminate Morgan’s existence.
To this point we’ve started off well enough. Scott is able to build tension and set the table for a tense if comically inept psyche evaluation conducted by the great Paul Giamatti. At the conclusion of this meeting the film descends into chaos- in service to the plot and in quality simultaneously. Scott has a bevy of amazing actors at his disposal and they are all as lifelike as a cardboard standup at your local drugstore. The exception to this is Rose Leslie who oozes emotion with ease, but is betrayed by the criminal lack of characterization on display. Morgan at times feels like the Wal-Mart brand version of Ex Machina- to which Scott should have taken pointers from. The latter employed three major talking roles, giving writer/director Alex Garland room to spread his wings and breathe life into those characters. Seth Owen’s script feels under-attenuated, packed to the gils with faux science and confused about how to effectively bridge the gap of action and horror. One or the other would’ve sufficed, but is it the writing or the direction (or an unfortunate mashup of both) to blame for Morgan’s descent into mediocrity?
Unintended comedy begins pummeling viewers in the face as the switch is flipped from a tense and moody horror flick to half-baked actioner. The fight sequences are dizzying in the amount of cuts as characters tumble around as if in a WWE wrestling match instead of letting highly trained body doubles duke it out from a wide angle. The last act is ripe with bizarre continuity issues which become mildly forgivable with an ending that isn’t unpredictable, but redeems some of the many shortcomings.
With the cast Morgan has it’s not hard to see the temptation to put in a wide release, but Scott’s film is a late night spur-of-the-moment rental at best. Scott shows that he has learned quite a bit watching his father’s work over the years, but dozed off during the most important parts. The robot viral marketing for this was clever, but ultimately when the uprising comes even Skynet won’t bother with Morgan’s shenanigans.
Beer Recommendation: None at this time…sorry, fellow nerds.