With the slew of AI-inspired sci-fi tales programming theaters screens and Netflix queues over the past few years, it was inevitable that one would robot flick would finally malfunction. 2016’s “Morgan” just happens to be the dud among the AI movie crop, a story that inspires no thought-provoking questions about technology or humanity, except “Why was ‘Morgan’ made to begin with?”
The premise is interesting if you don’t think about it too much. Kate Mara is Lee Weathers, a strong, stern risk management consultant for a big genetic engineering company. Her assignment is to figure out if artificially-designed Morgan (Anna Taylor-Joy), should be shut down after a recent outburst. Don’t worry, it’s nothing major, Morgan just violently and repeatedly stabbed Jennifer Jason Leigh in the eye with a ballpoint pen. She’s fiiiine.
Like rich, lazy parents to a misbehaving juvenile delinquent, all of Morgan’s scientific caretakers still love her despite the incident. They think of the genetically-engineered girl as their own shared offspring, while Lee continuously reinforces the idea that Morgan is not a person but a very dangerous “it.” It’s immensely frustrating to Lee that these supposedly educated scientists can’t see past their own emotional biases that Morgan is deadly and will inevitably and ruthlessly kill them all.
Lee’s frustrations are shared by us viewers since every plot point in this movie is the result of a poor decision that could have been easily avoided. There are countless times when Morgan can be stopped or killed but the scientists instead sob into each other’s shoulders while cursing the cruel, unfair world for not loving their diabolical, mass-murdering teenager. Watching this movie is like hanging out with a chain smoker who gets lung cancer but refuses to accept that their fate was sealed by their own stinky hand.
Taylor-Joy does well as Morgan, bringing the film’s only true moments of emotion and tension. Mara is so-so as Lee, which is more the fault of cliched writing than poor acting. But every character in “Morgan” could be played by a different actor and we’d still end up with the same, poorly-designed mess. The “twist” is more obnoxious than enlightening: Writer Seth W. Owen and director Luke Scott clearly watched “Blade Runner” and “The Sixth Sense” while making this based on their cliche ending. This artificial intelligence story gives us no reason to care, so when all is said and done, we’re glad Morgan and her friends met their poorly-plotted fate.