Visceral, intelligent science fiction with terrific performances that is let down by a disappointing third act
Like his filmmaker siblings Jake and Jordan, feature debutant Luke Scott should probably be applauded for even picking up a camera. It can't be easy being the son of Ridley Scott, director of everything from Alien and Blade Runner to recent runaway hit The Martian. Yet here Luke is with Morgan, a sci-fi thriller that feels like a more vicious companion to Alex Garland's Ex_Machina.
The early signs are good: a smart cast, an ever smarter design aesthetic and a story that might just be about something. Morgan, played by Anya Taylor-Joy (who made her startling breakthrough in The Witch), is a genetically engineered 'human'. Created in the lab by scientists (led by Toby Jones and Michelle Yeoh), she has already demonstrated remarkable physical and cerebral growth rates.
Yet, as the opening CCTV-viewed footage shows, all is not well. Out of the blue, Morgan stabbed a fellow team member (Jennifer Jason Leigh) in the eye, and has since been confined to her room in a remote, underground bunker. Enter Kate Mara's risk-management consultant, present to assess whether she – or 'It' – should be terminated.
Touching on pertinent issues regarding the morality of such scientific advancements, particularly when it comes to giving life, Morgan leaves plenty to ponder. Or at least it would if the final twist-hinging act didn't blow it all with a sickeningly violent denouement as Morgan goes rogue, trying to escape from those she believed were her family.
Scott seems to get a kick out of watching Taylor-Joy and Mara kick each other. Rather like the recent Hardcore Henry, such scenes can only go so far before audience interest dwindles. It's a pity, because the two female leads, along with Game of Thrones' Rose Leslie as Morgan's only ally, all acquit themselves well. They are simply let down by a third act that seems exclusively geared towards adolescent video game fantasy.
Wide release from Fri 2 Sept.