Cinematic Releases: Morgan (2016) - Reviewed

The Scott Free production and directorial debut of Ridley Scott’s son Luke, Morgan, is another genetically engineered bionic woman movie in a long list of like-minded action thrillers including but not limited to Lucy, Hanna, Species, Splice and of course The Bionic Woman television series.  

Working from a long gestating screenplay by Seth W. Owen and featuring a star studded (if not overqualified) cast including Kate Mara, Toby Jones, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Giamatti and even Brian Cox, it’s an Irish set science fiction film that unfortunately we the viewer have seen one too many times before.  It has a few twists and turns in the plotline but once again we can trace the developments to the aforementioned movies and the central superhuman girl even wears the same gray hoodie worn by Saoirse Ronan in Hanna.  Ostensibly a dry and by the numbers B sci-fi horror movie with moments of superhuman brutality and lots of crushed heads, the occasional second-unit to Ridley’s films tries to step out on his own here but more or less makes another Ridley Scott film, note for note. 

Watching the film at a startlingly short eighty seven minute running time, you get the impression it was scissored down considerably in the editing room and the film rushes through the third act too quickly, prompting a few audience members to proclaim ‘that was short!’. Given how many other movies we’ve seen that are just like it, it’s difficult to differentiate it from the rest outside of who’s starring in it.  Special thanks should be given to The Witch leading lady and newcomer Anya Taylor-Joy, who demonstrates in the titular role of Morgan beneath her innocent looking exterior lies a danger that can break out in extreme violence at any moment.  Jennifer Jason Leigh, continuing a string of less than glamourous starring roles, dons a bloody eye patch from a prior altercation with Morgan, and Paul Giamatti’s brief bit is one of the strongest in the movie.  The rest aren’t given a whole lot to do and while leading lady Kate Mara is a good actress with a track record behind her, there’s not much range here beyond a locked stoic expression and occasions when she gets to kick ass and take names. Across the board the performances are largely serviceable but considering the caliber of talent on screen they should have more to do than just going through the motions.

If this glass weren't here, I would kiss you SO hard right now. 

For a first time director, Luke Scott doesn’t make a bad debut, just kind of a derivative and underwhelming replica of his dad’s recent output.  Once in a while the son or daughter of a major filmmaker can and often do break into the film scene with their own individual voice.  Sometimes it takes a couple movies for the descendant of a legendary filmmaker to figure it out, sometimes not.  Sofia Coppola arguably succeeded Francis Ford Coppola where Jennifer Lynch continues to pale in David Lynch’s shadow, for instance.  In the case of Luke Scott it might be too early to tell and considering he’s already worked with father Ridley as a second unit on Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Martian, he has a ways to go before moving out of daddy’s shadow.  As it stands, Morgan is one to wait for video rental and feels like half-baked Ridley Scott instead of an original and new voice.  Nice try but I’d recommend waiting for Luke Scott to do a couple more movies before giving him the benefit of the doubt.


- Andrew Kotwicki

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