Aidan Monaghan

Morgan

release date 09/02/16
B
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August 30, 2016 at 08:39 PM EDT

Ridley Scott’s son Luke has too keen an eye and is too skilled at mood setting to be written off as a beneficiary of nepotism. That said, for his feature debut, Morgan, it might have been smarter to venture a little further away from the chilly, futuristic turf that his dad previously tilled. Scott’s low-key sci-fi thriller zips along with a sense of creeping dread—at least until it sputters to a third-act twist that anyone who’s semiconscious will see coming down Broadway.

A somewhat miscast Kate Mara stars as Lee Weathers, an all-business corporate troubleshooter dispatched to a remote, high-tech research lab after a horrific accident has halted her employer’s latest experiment: the breeding of an artificial “human” for reasons that are left unexplained until late in the game. The top secret genetics firm’s creation is called Morgan, a pasty-skinned young “woman” with a blank stare and the clipped diction of Siri. She’s played with subtle, subzero perfection by The Witch’s Anya Taylor-Joy (even if she is a bit reminiscent of Ex Machina’s Ava, minus the wires). After Morgan viciously attacks one of the lab’s employees, the rest of the staff rally to “her” defense because they’ve come to love their handiwork. But the more Weathers pokes around, the fishier things get.

Is Morgan hardwired for violence, or is “she” just a synthetic naïf with a bloody glitch? Taylor-Joy and the rest of the ace cast make you care about the answer to that question. The script? Less so. B

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