If the high concept for Luke Scott’s Morgan sounds familiar it’s probably because you watched Ex Machina last year. Like in that movie, in Morgan an outsider is asked to troubleshoot a potentially malicious female android locked up in a compound. Whereas in Ex Machina the dynamic was sexual, in Morgan the dynamic is parent-child, with the troubleshooter (stony Kate Mara) looking askance as various engineers coo over the android, even after it commits heinous violence. Besides Mara and the up-and-comer Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays the android, the movie is sprinkled with stars—though sprinkled is the operative word: both Jennifer Jason Leigh & Bryan Cox are more adornment than players; there’s also Paul Giamatti, given a delicious role that is unfortunately too small. One problem with the movie is its first half, which is not calibrated well: there’s a vaguely menacing mood but little chemistry between the players. The dialogue, which could’ve been philosophical, is mundane; in Ex Machina the dialogue may not have been brilliant but it was intelligible & intelligent. Fortunately Morgan picks up in the second half when it starts offering what sophisticated critics call “cheap thrills.” At this point the action is still, as in too many movies, shot too tightly & cut too rapidly. At least it’s action.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White