‘MORGAN’ (2016) MOVIE REVIEW – Lots of Potential, Ends Up a Long Yawn
‘Morgan’ is a Sci-Fi Horror film starring Kate Mara and Anya Taylor-Joy that follows Lee Weathers (Mara) who is sent to a remote location to analyse a recent horrific incident and provide a risk assessment on the human subject known as Morgan. From the initial trailer and early synopsis i was looking forward to this film because it looked like a sci-fi film featuring compelling horror elements and a plot that would offer a sense of originality and deal with some ideas that would make you think. Unfortunately those hopes were shut down as the horror elements are kept to a bare minimum, the plot is a predictable one at best right down to the final pointless twist, and any chance for the film to explore compelling ideas and dilemmas is wasted on mindless unexciting action sequences. Kate Mara may be the only clear positive element of the film as her performance was a different one than she is used to portraying and she committed to the role. Even her character was one that you side with very early on so getting behind her actions was very easy and helped give you at least one character to enjoy watching as she is surrounded by stupidity in this film.
The balance (or lack thereof) of action set-pieces and key horrific moments, with character set-up and character developing dialogue scenes is ultimately the films biggest downfall as this contrast was not handled well at all and made it difficult to enjoy many or all aspects of the film. The film is only an hour and a half long, and thankfully it is, because a yawn of that length is better than a 2 hour one. Basically if you split this film down the middle, right at that 45 minute mark, you are left with a first half that spends every minute setting characters up, introducing character relationships, and not building any noticeable tension and is a long bore. Then you have a second half that is very action oriented (the most i can go into without spoiling it), and a lack of emotion attached to any of the events that occur. The disconnect in, i wouldn’t say ‘tone’ as the dull and dreary tones are evident throughout, but there is a disconnect in terms of what type of film each half wanted to be.
Initially it is treating itself as more of a character study, trying to go deeper into establishing emotional elements, and trying to have you understand Morgan, similar to how ‘Ex Machina’ (2015) approached your interactions with Ava. Then the second half loses its touch and goes for more high octane action trying to suddenly evoke a sense of high tension in the film that wasn’t present or building early on. ‘Ex Machina’ has a similar structure but it does a better job at tying the two together to make it all connect and feel as though the events later on in the film are directly tied to those early on. If they had stuck to one of these two distinctively different formats for the entire film it would have had a stronger impact and felt like a more tighter experience that would draw you in more.
This is the feature film directorial debut for Luke Scott (Ridley Scott’s son) and i can see that he had good intentions for the film, for the characters, and had a good base idea for how the film was going to play out. But the execution i felt was way off, and i feel like this hints more to inexperience as oppose to inability. Thinking back there are brief scenes that are well made and well directed to where in an isolated state they do stand out and could be apart of a better overall film but unfortunately that isn’t the case here. Kate Mara was a definitive positive element of the film and is really the only character whose purpose was fully realised and whose actions felt part of her character which was very strongly written. Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch) does put in a good performance as Morgan but the character wasn’t given any interesting scenes that she could really sink her teeth into.
I won’t continue on about other specifics regarding other characters and why i felt like they were frustrating as if you do decide to watch this film i’d rather it isn’t spoiled. In the end this was a major disappointment all the way through, and as a result i’m going to go quite low with this one as although there wasn’t anything about the film that was specifically terrible and one of the worst things i’d seen, the whole film was consistently not good and apart from 1 character didn’t offer any other redeeming qualities.