Director: Luke Scott
Stars: Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy
1 Globe (out of 5)
Pseudo-science thriller "Morgan" manages the impressive feat of being simultaneously moronic yet utterly indistinct. It's as if director Luke Scott, son of Ridley, saw "Ex-Machina" and thought, "Hmm, this movie's pretty good, but it could use fewer ideas and more people getting punched in the face." It belongs to that timeless genre of “smart scientists making fatally stupid mistakes." Scott appears to have inherited his father's affinity for stupid geniuses, which feature prominently in Ridley's "Prometheus" — a movie that at least compensates with prodigious spectacle.
“Morgan” concerns a group of scientists who decide to engender a self-aware human-hybrid (Anya Taylor-Joy), which is the kind of foolish endeavor only undertaken by scientists who are not long for this world. The reasons for creating this hybrid are never sufficiently addressed, since, unlike the titular prototype, this is not a movie that possesses the gift of self-awareness.
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The scientists (Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Michelle Yeoh — all wasted) spout pontifications as vacuous as empty wine glasses, while Kate Mara, playing an assassin who also handles risk management assessment, stares at them with hostility. She immediately realizes that Morgan, who stabs Jennifer Jason Leigh in the eye during the opening seconds (Leigh doesn't really mind), is unstable. Taylor-Joy, sublime in this year's "The Witch," is given nothing to do. She looks like she's struggling to find depth that just isn't there.
The most surprising thing about "Morgan," which is relentlessly predicable, is that it looks and sounds so bland. You'd think Ridley Scott, who co-produced the film, would imbue the movie with some sort of pizazz. Instead, it has a color scheme that resembles a dirty sidewalk and a score as interesting as a malfunctioning dial-up modem tone.
The only memorable scene involves Paul Giamatti, who shows up to do some acting. He plays a weirdly abrasive psychologist who yells at the unstable subject in order to provoke a plot point. He chews scenery; Morgan chews him.
Follow Greg Cwik on Twitter @GregCwik1