A young semi-human being is seemingly glitching and with that comes the need to analyze if she is a failed project or not.
Gun Violence | Blood | Flinch Worthy Violence
For around 5 years Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy) has been alive. However, after witnessing a hurt deer something has changed, something has been triggered. To the point where, when forced into isolation, she attacks a woman named Kathy (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Leading to corporate sending Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) to check on things and do as she sees fit. Which, with Morgan being told far too much about her situation, leads to quite a bit of conflict.
The fight scenes in the movie are absolutely brutal. Even without the majority having broken bones or anything like that, there is something about the intensity in Taylor-Joy’s face, and the movements of her likely stunt double, which make every kick, punch, suffocation, or neck twist, just seem gruesome. And this is coming from someone who has seen a few violent movies.
Alongside that praise, I must admit I enjoyed the character of Dr. Alan Shapiro (Paul Giamatti), in the small role he has. If only because this movie strongly reminds me of Ex-Machina but with more people fooled by the subject. However, Giamatti, with the young Taylor-Joy pulls this feeling out of you. It is established that, despite no combat training, Morgan is dangerous. However, every caretaker she has, and how she reacts to Dr. Shapiro, leads you to almost being in this state of not believing this girl knows what she is doing. But as he pushes her, almost like a principal with a student, trying to forcefully get to the bottom of some prank, you begin to question things.
You question if Morgan, who we are told is so smart, and perhaps is learning about emotions, has learned to manipulate everyone? Or, at the very least, knows how to take advantage of them through affectionate terms like, mother, father, and friend. But then Dr. Shapiro smacks those rose colored glasses off of everyone. To the point that, if you were ever in trouble in school in which the principal and your parents got involved, you may wanna prep for a flashback.
One of the main problems with Morgan is everyone seems so desperate to get you to like the child, or at least feel for her, that it is counterproductive. For, while we get to see her grow up and learn she is going through some weird form of puberty, at the same time you have a violent image of her stabbing someone in the eye. Then, on top of that, someone thought it would be cute to make it so everyone portrays it as a child-like mistake. Because, you know, we don’t have nutcases on the news every month shooting and stabbing people because life isn’t how they want. Yeah, that is the best way to make the audience fall for someone. Especially with actors who seemingly struggle to get you to see things from their point of view.
Though, with so little time spent on developing anyone but Morgan, they never had a chance. Lee walks in as a foreigner in this little community and everyone tries to be friendly but it isn’t like they are having multiple days of dinner and get to know you chat. The movie itself is only about 2-3 days and in that time the only interesting thing that happens, non-Morgan related, is when this character named Skip (Boy Holbrook) kisses Lee and makes you wonder if he may be the key to peeling the layers of this very calculated character. But, alas, while we do learn a bit about Lee, it is the type of information which makes you roll your eyes for even before the reveal it becomes obvious what she is. After all, why would they send one single person, well two if you could Dr. Shapiro, to investigate a dangerous man-made entity which is not only potentially violent, in an unpredictable way, but has the intelligence to possibly cause a lot of damage to the company? Both in terms of human resources and public relations. Much less, why would that person, meaning Lee, have a gun, seemingly have combat training, and figure out a way to break out of the cell that the genius, Morgan supposedly is, couldn’t think of?
On The Fence
I must admit I admire the attempts, even if they weren’t as developed as I would have honestly liked, to make it seem Morgan had some type of relationship with some of her caretakers beyond them being in awe of her. The relationship with Dr. Amy (Rose Leslie) in particular I thought was cute for with Amy not being seen as Morgan’s mother, and it not being clear what age Morgan might be, I was curious as to whether Amy saw Morgan as either a friend or something more. Especially with the scene in the woods and the scene the day before Morgan was to be psychologically evaluated by Dr. Shapiro.