By: Henry J. Fromage (Four Beers) –
It appears there’s another member of the Scott family who’s now ready to take up the directorial mantel, Luke, son of Ridley, now making his debut at the relatively spring chicken age of 48. Clearly Dad is an influence, too, because, in a way, this is his Blade Runner, or, perhaps more accurately, his Ex Machina.
If you’ve got to steal, steal from the greats.
Morgan tells the tale of a corporate risk management officer (Kate Mara) called out to a remote research lab where her company’s most promising asset has suffered a bit of a hiccup, and its whole program may need to be shut down. The twist is- the asset is a genetically engineered AI (Anya Taylor-Joy) with the emotional intelligence of a 5 year old but the strength of a supersoldier… and she don’t like being cooped up so much anymore.
Like his father, Luke clearly has a strong ability to create environments that may be set in different times and worlds but feel organic and lived in. Morgan‘s future isn’t too far removed from our own, and the setting Scott is able to establish goes a long way towards also establishing tone.
I mean it’s Ex Machina‘s tone, but again, steal from the greats.
And while it takes awhile getting there, the ending no holds barred brawl between Mara and Taylor-Joy is pretty awesome. The violence is a hell of a release from the slow burn/fizzle of the first two acts, and Scott is able to shoot it coherently and with real impact.
As is common in genre fare, the plot is driven by really bad decision-making. The researchers who have gotten close to their creation perhaps understandably take a lot of risks towards something they’re starting to regard as human, but wowww… do they take a lot of risks, and even when everything starts going to hell and it’s clear they’re prey at best, they keep right at it. Rose Leslie in particular is a complete tree-hugging idjit.
You know nothing, Rose Leslie.
The lack of character development is perhaps understandable, but the genius of Ex Machina is how it works overtime to make you just as torn as Domnhall Gleeson’s character about the A.I. that’s sure to spell doom (A.I. always spells doom. Here, as soon as Anya Taylor-Joy starts to go off the reservation, the only audience reaction is “Kill it with fire”. Who cares if she likes trees and flowers if she snaps the neck of every living thing she meets?
Morgan just takes way too long to get to the good stuff, and thinks its ambiguously building thrills when it’s just biding time until we get to what we all know will happen- wanton awesome destruction. You could lop 30 minutes off this already short film and nobody would know the difference.
It’s probably not a good sign that 75% of the theater audience at my showing of Morgan fell asleep at one point (the audience was 4), or that the sweet-looking old lady that was in the theater told the cleaner boy “That movie was crap”. However, if high concept sci-fi or female badassery is your bag, you’ll be happy giving it a rental.
Morgan (2016) Drinking Game
Take a Drink: for Chekhovian guns
Take a Drink: for field trips
Take a Drink: whenever Morgan is referred to as ‘it’
Take a Drink: whenever a researcher does something idiotic
Do a Shot: for easily called twists