Nature and nurture : a MORGAN retrospective
Nature and nurture : a MORGAN retrospective (2016 / 20th Century Fox / Rated R)
directed by Luke Scott
written by Seth Owen
starring Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Giamatti.
From the library DVD box, MORGAN looks like just another formulaic, plot-driven story of an experimental program to speed up human evolution – and it does deal with a cyborg developed in an experimental program, but here the focus is on the cyborg’s humanity.
This cyborg, the androgynous Morgan, was infused with nanotech from in vitro fertilization onward, and then raised by the program’s scientists. Morgan has physically developed to a pre-teen level in only five years, and she looks like any pre-teen on the outside, although she has supernormal strength, speed, and intelligence. When Morgan loses control and hurts a scientist, the corporation running the program sends in a trouble-shooter to investigate.
This movie is a cut above most others of its type and, although I’m very picky, I liked it okay. The characters had a solid credibility, the plot line progressed with a natural flow, and the dialogue sounded just right. I have to admit that the surprise ending didn’t completely surprise me, but they played out the final plot twist with a fake-out that caught me unawares after all.
MORGAN has really good camera work, too. For example, the use of close-ups and other character framing are executed with mathematical precision, skillfully communicating character personality and intent through facial expression and body language. All of this is particularly important because MORGAN is driven not by plot but by character : the personalities of Morgan, the scientists who raised her, and the mysterious troubleshooter all work together to move the story arc forward. This is greatly preferable to most killer cyborg movies, where the cyborg’s powers are a plot device to drive forward a story about super-powered battling.
In sum, this movie is entertaining, yet it has depth, so I’d definitely recommend it, especially for science fiction lovers but also for a broader, more general audience – this is the kind of movie you can enjoy with, say, an SF-avoidant Significant Other…as long as they can stand a little cinematic brutality here and there.
If you liked this MORGAN retrospective, I’d be honored if you checked out the rest of my work here at Outright Geekery. Thank you.