The idea of playing God by creating artificial life is an old sci-fi standby, whether it be of flesh and bone, like the Frankenstein monster, or a robot, like HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, or something in between like Morgan, who is bio-engineered with synthetic DNA. In the opening scene of Morgan, you get a glimpse of this seemingly-human teenager (Anya Taylor-Joy) leaping over a table to gouge out the eye of one of the scientists (Jennifer Jason Leigh). She is the next step in evolution… indeed!
If your super-top-secret science experiment is taking place in a dilapidated old gothic mansion deep in the woods, I just might guess that you are probably up to no good. Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) has been sent from corporate to this remote enclave to check on Morgan’s case, and to investigate what went wrong. The scholars and scientists are all a little shifty around Weathers, as they are very protective of Morgan (who is now kept in a secure bunker), thinking of her as the child (albeit very fast growing child) that they all created and raised. See, Morgan just had a bit of an accident. She’s a good, smart kid, and they’ve learned so much!
This is one of those movies where you can predict the plot (and the twists) from a mile away. There are silly details like the seeming inability for Jennifer Jason Leigh to be given a clean eye bandage that is not caked in blood and taped on hastily. Or the womanliness of Lee Weathers questioned because she doesn’t want to sleep with the drunk nutritionist on the first night. Plot gaps show up left and right (has Morgan been training in martial arts? who taught her to drive? does she have super-human senses?). Maybe a lot is left up to assumption, but it is all just thrown in there as a big shrug.
The surprisingly good cast (including Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, and Michelle Yeoh) does their best with what is basically a stink bomb of a formula sci-fi/horror flick. But credit goes to Paul Giamatti (how did they rope him into this?) for his single scene, as the worst psychiatrist ever. He shows up to analyze if Morgan knows right from wrong, or is capable of feeling. As Giamatti escalates the questioning to harassment to full on verbal assault, I cheered and laughed when Morgan snapped and ripped a chunk out of his neck with her teeth. Wheee! I’m sorry… I guess that was a spoiler, but don’t worry, you really should skip this one.
“Modified Organism: The Science Behind Morgan” goes into the real-life science behind genetic engineering, and is interesting in the fact that those interviewed are geeking out about their science rather than talking about the movie. There is also a feature commentary by director Luke Scott, the short film “Loom”, plus deleted scenes, a gallery, and trailers.