At The Movies: Morgan

If you’re hoping “Morgan” is a documentary about the life of Morgan Freeman (narrated by Morgan Freeman, naturally) then you’ll be disappointed.

No, “Morgan” is the latest in the line of no-frills, sci-fi thrillers that make their way to theaters every year. Think “Ex Machina” or “Lucy.” It’s quirky, compelling and strange. Pretty much what you expect from science fiction when it’s not being taken over by big budgets, special effects and spaceships.

Morgan-posterKate Mara stars as Lee Weathers, an analyst and fixer for a large corporation that is doing work in human genetic engineering. She’s been sent to a secluded, run-down mansion in the woods where a team of scientists are working with their latest test-tube subject, a young girl named Morgan (Anya-Taylor Joy).

Morgan recently had a violent outburst and savagely injured one of her keepers. Lee has been sent in to determine if she should be terminated.

The staff, led by Dr. Simon Ziegler (Toby Jones), are fiercely loyal to Morgan, despite the incident. The head of the program, Dr. Lui Cheng (Michelle Yeoh), is more reserved.

Things take a turn for the worse for Morgan during an interview with Dr. Alan Shapiro (Paul Giamatti), the expert sent to determine her state of mind. It’s clear to Lee what needs to be done, but Morgan won’t be the only person to reject the decision.

“Morgan” marks the directorial debut of Luke Scott, son of director Ridley Scott. While not at the level of his father’s works like “Alien,” “Blade Runner” or “The Martian,” it’s not a bad first film.  The set-up is intriguing and it takes an interesting turn near the end. It is a little thin on story and character development.

Kate Mara gives a good performance and most everyone else is adequate. Giamatti’s character takes it too far — if his goal was really to goad Morgan to the breaking point, you’d think he’d have security in the room with him given what happened the last time.

 

 

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