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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 09.01.16] scifi horror thriller

Be it art or science, humanity's quest to create seems insatiable. This unquenchable thirst is mostly noble and has led to some huge advancements but troubling is the lengths to which we'll go to create a super soldier. Everything from exoskeletons and gene mutation to fully autonomous AI's, it seems the military industrial complex won't ever stop in their goal for the perfect soldier and Luke Scott's Morgan is but the latest precautionary tale of what can go wrong when we play God.

Anya Taylor-Joy (excellent earlier this year in the The Witch (review) stars as the titular character, a teenager who is the latest development in one company's line of super soldiers. She's well cared for and even loved by the team of scientists and doctors that look after her but she's had a slip up. In a moment of weakness, she injures one of her caregivers, prompting the company to send out a risk assessment team made up of exactly one person: Lee Weather (Kate Mara).

Weather's job is simple: assess if Morgan is damaged goods and decide whether the experiment should continue or be terminated. Her job is made more difficult by the fact that Morgan's caregivers have come to care for the young woman as a family member and they're not about to let some corporate lackey tell them what to do.

For most of its running time, Morgan is a taught drama with Weather, the outsider looking in on a close knit group, assessing and poking to find the weakest point while the science team come together to protect the young girl. It makes for some great tension which builds into a fantastic scene dominated by Paul Giamatti who plays a shrink hired to assess Morgan.

The scene also marks a tonal shift in the movie from one of mystery and drama to all out action movie with Weather trying to contain the problem that is Morgan and her team of allies. Morgan is a great showcase for Scott, mixing intimate drama and action scenes with seamless ease. It certainly doesn't hurt that he's working with a slew of talented actors who make even the most vaguely written characters weighty. The script doesn't give a lot of time to character development but there's a great emotional depth to each of the characters which makes the movie far more effective.

Morgan may not offer anything groundbreaking in the spectrum of movies about human experiments gone wrong but it features great performances, interesting observations on corporate culture and it's really aptly made and fun to watch without being exhausting. It's no Ex-Machina but it's nonetheless an impressive debut from a talented new filmmaker.

Morgan opens September 2.

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Genius (5 years ago) Reply

Great on Anya Taylor Joy, there are some big names tied to this film!
Need to go see it.
The Witch was impressive.

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