This movie could do with a bit more subtlety. It makes a point of hammering home the idea that the scientists are blinded by their love of Morgan. Video diaries and flashback sequences are supposedly used to help us sympathize with their particular worldview. The problem is that the reality of the situation says otherwise. The brutality of the opening scene formed my lasting impression of Morgan. I found it hard not to regard the scientists as anything but complete idiots. They were like dumbed-down characters in a slasher movie. I understood their motivations but I couldn’t comprehend how technically competent experts could lack basic emotional intelligence. They seemed incapable of holding Morgan accountable for her actions. On a more positive note, I thought Morgan and Lee were relatable characters who complemented each other nicely. Their sense of urgency propels the action that takes place in the third act. Anya Taylor-Joy’s portrayal of Morgan is admirable because she manages to be both terrifying and vulnerable when the moment calls for it. I was also pleasantly surprised by the intriguing layers beneath Lee that rise to the surface as the movie progresses.
Nature vs nurture is Morgan’s central theme and is at the heart of my favorite scene. Paul Giamatti has a small albeit important role in the movie as a psychiatrist who has a one-on-one with Morgan. His purpose is to fuel the film’s debate on this subject and he pulls it off magnificently. There is a question he poses to one of the scientists right before conducting the interview that is quite insightful. He relentlessly goads Morgan which leads to disastrous results. The intensity of this scene doesn’t come from the anticipation of predicting what will happen but rather when it will happen. What follows is the aforementioned moronic behavior of the scientists. Furthermore, I was put off by certain liberties taken by the story. A lot of events seemed to transpire for the sake of convenience and felt contrived instead of earned.
If you do plan on seeing the movie, you might want to tune out right here.
I’m very conflicted about the big twist/reveal at the end. I applaud the filmmakers for doing something that has the potential of surprising audiences but the execution could have been handled better. However, it did negate some of my problems with the story’s shortcuts. Personally, I did not see it coming though I spoke to others who telegraphed it from a mile away. In hindsight, I was shocked that I didn’t have the slightest inclination. I am curious as to whether the initial idea for this movie came out of this reveal as opposed to it being something that naturally developed from writing the script. In a way, Morgan’s entire meaning is turned on its head when you really think about it. Most people feel that a bad ending can ruin a great movie. I felt that the movie’s intriguing reveal redeems the somewhat mediocre storytelling. One small instance should not make up for a lackluster movie but I felt satisfied in the moment.
*Spoilers end here*
Morgan is inherently flawed and gets more wrong than it does right. There are some fine performances but equally infuriating characters. If you are willingly to sit through a couple of empty-headed scenes, there might be a big surprise waiting for you at the end that could make the experience worthwhile.