Morgan (2016)

(On Cable TV, June 2017) It’s unfair to review a film and lament that it’s not another film, but here’s the thing: It’s impossible to watch Morgan without feeling that it’s a dull rethread of material far better explored in Ex Machina. The somewhat similar first act really doesn’t help, even if it’s the best thing about the film: As a “risk-management consultant” travels to an isolated location to evaluate the potential of a synthetic life-form named Morgan, we’re plunged in a similar, yet intriguing scenario: What is human, and what if humanity is defined by its worst traits? After a quick introduction to the rather large cast of characters, the film pivots off a crucial (yet moronic) scene in which Morgan is taunted to the point of violent aggression. After that, pack up the ideas, because Morgan becomes nothing more than another generic psycho-killer horror movie, the number of victims climbing to include almost the entire cast by the time the credits roll. Perhaps worse yet is the final twist, which isn’t a twist as much as a belated confirmation of what nearly every viewer will have guessed ten minutes in the movie. What’s too bad is that Morgan, besides an effective first act, can boast of a talented cast: While I’m not sold on Kate Mara’s deliberately affectless performance, there’s a solid roster with Leslie Rose, Toby Jones, Michelle Yeoh and Paul Giamatti (in a short but strong role) having their moments to shine. Too bad about the delayed “twist”. Too bad about the cookie-cutter second half. Some of director Luke Scott’s work is fine, but the script isn’t particularly good. Forget about Morgan and watch Ex Machina another time—you’ll have a far better experience.

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