Luke Scott, son of Ridley, hits his first full-length feature debut with a science-fiction action thriller Morgan. With a cast that wouldn’t look out of place in a Scott production, it’s an alarming possibility that son has followed fittingly in dad’s footsteps.
After a mishap in an isolated facility leaves a staff member wounded, a risk management consultant (Kate Mara) must decide whether to terminate the facility’s latest project, an artificially created humanoid being (Anya Taylor-Joy). Things would be easier, however, if the staff hadn’t grown so irreparably close to their specimen.
The beaming genre isn’t new to a script that pits man versus monster/creation; if anything, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the epitome. Where writer Seth W. Owen’s addition fuses intellect with hardwired action is the enigmatic, disquieted and measurably uneasy Anya Taylor-Joy’s ticking time bomb and the sparring powerhouse that is Mara’s questionable corporate figure. Both females evoke enough mystery within themselves without the factors of the experiment at hand and the immediate questions and answers they themselves beg to bring to the surface.
But do the questions really need to be answered? Owen and Scott both exude their own sense of intellect by giving us what we need to know without overly exhausting the facts that have been dished repeatedly in other films of this kind. Ex Machina wore the facts to unimaginably successful heights; why just relay them all over again with such close proximity?
Mother figure Michelle Yeoh, father figure Toby Jones and the rest of the cast are each gradually placed in Morgan’s sightline; Game of Thrones‘ red-headed beauty Rose Leslie is Morgan’s go-to gal, Jennifer Jason Leigh is the unfortunately grating scientist that trigger the events of Mara’s inclusion and Paul Giamatti is a product-testing asshat that appears engineered to push Morgan’s buttons to inexhaustible lengths. It’s an alarmingly impressive collection of talent that is fused together in a sub-par use of their talents to make room for Mara and Taylor-Joy’s sweeping clash of balls.
There’s an edge in Morgan, both as a whole and the character itself, that anchors the film greatly. As Taylor-Joy’s hooded figure triumphantly crashes everyone’s day with perplexing force, it’s a chilly, ultimately fierce portrayal of mankind’s next best thing lashing back.
Scott and Owen take a familiar tale and, instead of rehashing it, they retread with the capacity to dazzle and excite with a cast that is genuinely a joy to watch, though could have flourished with an extended running time. Though it falls into muddled territory come its final act, as Mara and our titular anti-hero come fist to fist amongst a rough terrain, it’s nothing outlandishly terrible to taint the Scott name, and for a first feature debut it’s one that’ll stand Luke in decent footing for the future.
Dir: Luke Scott
Scr: Seth W. Owen
Cast: Kata Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Rose Leslie, Paul Giamatti
Prd: Mark Huffam, Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer
Music: Max Richter
DOP: Mark Patten
Runtime: 92 minutes
Morgan is available on DVD and Blu-ray now.