If Ex Machina is the brand new fully-loaded sports car, Morgan is the decrepit clunker with a busted headlight and a trunk that doesn't quite close. Nothing about this is particularly smart, and yet there it is--defiantly offering scene after scene of indefensible nonsense. Its fatal flaw is that it is perfectly comfortable with how little it is saying. For some, this might make it the perfect empty popcorn movie.
The movie begins with a call. Lee Weathers is a risk-assessment analyst who works for a big corporation. Like a video game mission, Lee Weathers (played by Kate Mara) is told that she is to visit a remote site for her corporate employer. Lee must assess the viability of the company's new project--Morgan--an advanced life-form borne out of scientific experimentation. When Morgan repeatedly stabs a member of the staff, the company becomes worried about whether the project can continue.
Once there, we meet a host of characters who seem expendable from their first frames in the film. The team is protective of Morgan in a familial sort of way as they have grown attached. The film takes a turn when the corporate psychologist (played cartoonishly by Paul Giamatti) is brought in to evaluate Morgan. He yells, she attacks, and so begins a steep decline from an already low beginning.
The film then careens in and out of scene after scene of inanity as it seeks to approximate something like a thriller. As character after character is killed, you realize you don't really care about any of them. They are poorly conceived, poorly written and poorly acted and they quickly become debris in a whirlpool of fairly inept writing. The only saving grace is that at times, the film has a certain slick sheen that makes it pretty to look at. These times, however, are too few and far between to view this as legitimate entertainment.
One of the more annoying tactics in all of film is telling the audience something when you are working with a visual medium. Time and time again, the other characters would note how complex Morgan was. They would comment on her intellect or emotional intelligence, but these traits were largely absent on-screen. While she repeatedly did this 'magic trick' where she would already know someone's name before meeting them, that seemed more like a superpower than some special cognitive ability. So when character after character declared that Morgan had to be protected because of some 'special-ness,' it rang hollow and made me look forward to their certain doom.
Overall, there is little to recommend about the film. At no point does it attempt to say anything novel about bio-ethics, the future or anything else even remotely interesting If you are a fan of the empty calories that fill dozens of rows of the 'Thriller' section on Netflix, this one might be for you. But you could just as easily skip this and watch any number of more compelling options from the comfort of your own home.
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