Morgan's Twist Ending Can't Quite Salvage
The Film's Utter Predictability
Think of trying to tell someone the plot behind 80 percent of The Twilight Zone’s best episodes without mentioning any element of the climax whatsoever, and you get what I mean: you end up letting something slip that ruins the surprise should he try to go and check it out on his own. This isn’t to say a critic can’t wax on about how good a script is or how great a performance might be; it’s only to underscore that concealing what’s beneath gets harder and harder the more one says.
And – rest assured – Scott Free Productions’ Morgan does have a ‘twist ending.’ It may not be all that original, and it may not be all that well veiled; but it still presents the challenge of what to do once you know where it’s all headed … which just might be the film’s biggest problem.
(NOTE: The following review will contain minor spoilers necessary solely for the discussion of plot and/or characters. If you’re the type of reader who prefers a review entirely spoiler-free, then I’d encourage you to skip down to the last few paragraphs for my final assessment. If, however, you’re accepting of a few minor hints at ‘things to come,’ then read on …)
“A corporate risk-management consultant must decide whether or not to terminate an artificially created humanoid being.”
Mark my words: that clever li’l synopsis is probably all one can truthfully divulge about Morgan’s one-note plot without fully revealing what screenwriter Seth Owen and director Luke Scott tried to hide until the last reel, but even film aficionados might see right through that wrapper on second blush. Without mentioning it myself, I will say that (yes) it was pretty clear to me early on that the sign posts shouting “watch over here and not over there” weren’t secreted away well enough to make the film work on all levels. Still, what ended up being mostly predictable was thankfully watchable thanks largely to the strength of its players.
The always reliable Kate Mara ably carries the weight of the film on her shoulders: her Lee Weathers obsesses over the kind of crispness long assigned to corporate bean counters right down to the stiffly pressed shirts, emotionless attachments, and black-and-white ensembles. She’s sent in to do a job, and she’ll let absolutely nothing stand in her way of achieving the results desired of her superiors, even if it means ruffling every feather along the way. Mara’s Weathers only hints at a potential humanity buried far beneath, and she brushes off any hints of sentimentality with the ease of a corporate villainess.
Joining Mara in this cautionary SciFi film, relative newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy carries almost equal weight as Morgan, the genetic hybrid who’s not quite Pinocchio much less a little boy. (FYI: she’s a girl, but I couldn’t resist the play on words.) Morgan’s problem is that she’s ‘evolved’ beyond the scope of her inbred emotions allow, and let’s just say the young experiment has some serious anger issues. Taylor-Joy handles the spectrum here quite well – while spending large chunks of the film appearing sedate, her explosive fits of rage are delivered with equal thematic intensity.
It's at this point that Owens’ script takes the somewhat easy way out, diverting an otherwise clever film into a relatively traditional (and bloody) thriller, giving Morgan basically a chance to kill each of her successive victims a bit more creatively than the last. Unfortunately, such a turn compressed into what was largely a one location shoot also opened the door to previously intelligent characters doing downright stupid things only so that they each could end up yet one more victim of technology gone wrong. You’d think by now such brainiacs would think twice about messing with Mother Nature, but it just wasn’t in the science.
By that last reveal (and, trust me: most of you will see it coming), I’m not sure whether or not I’m supposed to care about these characters or merely loathe their cookie-cutter circumstances … but I do know that it was well enough put together that I didn’t mind it.
The downside to Morgan is that there’s far too much weight invested in its seemingly dramatic twist ending, one that I suspect most folks will see coming a mile away. That said, it does what it does fairly efficiently, and – while there’s always something to be said for that – all involved still deliver a story which feels far too much like we’ve been here before.