AN EMPIRE OF WORDS

Morgan (2016)

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After working on some of his father’s projects like The Martian and Exodus: Gods and Kings, Luke Scott has attempted to make his own mark on the filmmaking world with Morgan. In the run up to the films release, Morgan made some noise but then slipped and fell by the wayside.

Morgan had themes of a Sci-Fi Thriller throughout the marketing and it’s clear why, as the subject matter involves the creation of a genetic being. However, Luke Scott chose not to open with the beings creation, but rather an event referred to as ‘The Incident’. During ‘The Incident’ the genetic being, Morgan, stabs one of the doctors that is caring for it in the eye.

After this opening scene, Lee Weathers (Kate Mara) arrives at the complex under instruction from Corporate to assess the situation, and decide whether it is a viable option to terminate Morgan. Kate Mara delivers an incredible performance as Lee Weathers in Morgan as the emotionless and quite frankly stern risk assessor from Corporate. Although she has this hard exterior, there is more than meets the eyes with Lee Weathers.


This cold, less-than-impressed persona exhibited by Mara effectively builds tension as she meets with everyone that cares for Morgan. What is interesting is Luke Scott builds a certain family feel in the build up to meeting Morgan as everyone speaks for how amazing and excellent she is, even Dr. Grieff. (who got stabbed in the eye by the child)

As Weathers meets the doctors in the compound played by the likes of Toby Jones, Rose Leslie and Michael Yare, she builds tension with everyone she interacts with as they tiptoe around ‘The Incident’. They continually refer to Morgan as ‘she’ and ‘her’ and Weathers coldly and abruptly states that Morgan is an ‘It’.

However, this all changes when the film effectively ups the ante with Paul Giamatti’s analytical character interviewing Morgan for the psych-evaluation. The tension that Giamatti’s Dr Alan Shapiro creates is just beautiful as he badgers the sweet, innocent-looking Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy).


Luke Scott seems to have mastered the mix between having the right amount of tension for the right period of screen time for the characters involved. As he effectively builds this tension, he displays a masterful eye in the sense of giving just enough time in a scene for whomever.

Scott effectively manages to capture the family feel from Amy Menser (Rose Leslie) and her colleagues toward Morgan and their care for her. This counteracts the cold, callous nature of Lee Weathers and her subtle movements including the touching of Dr. Grieff’s (Jennifer Jason Leigh) hand, which seemed unnatural for everyone involved.


He has also managed to create what is an intriguing plot throughout Morgan. Although there could’ve been more focus on different segments in the story, it was a largely enjoyable story that was bought to life. I have always found films that have artificial life as their subject matter interesting, especially in terms of the purpose of creation. Something that is never really explored in Morgan which I think would’ve have ripened the story more.

What seems to be the focus throughout the film is the caging of Morgan and whether this was the ‘right’ thing to do. As the film picks up its pace, Luke Scott previews the growing up of Morgan with the aide of Amy, which makes for interesting viewing as we see snapshots of Morgan discovering the world. Scott has a talent like his father for creating a beautiful landscape as they both explore the compounds wooded borders. 

That being said, the narrative arc kept the film interesting for it’s runtime of 92 minutes. Although it quickly descended into a slasher-esque flick, the film kept itself interesting through the narrative between Lee Weathers and her discovering of Morgan. As mentioned above, the story could’ve focused on different areas, but it seems as though Scott chose to opt for more action in these areas instead.

As the steely-faced Kate Mara takes control of the situation in the first half of the film, it’s clear that Morgan was certainly carried by it’s cast. Due to the story not progressing until Dr. Shapiro’s meeting with Morgan, it certainly scuffs it feet, making the rather short runtime feel longer. Apart from a few plot issues (that I cannot speak of, due to them being linked with potential spoilers) Morgan was a largely enjoyable film, and a very impressive directorial debut from Luke Scott.

If You Liked This, You May Like: Ex Machina

Whilst Luke Scott’s directorial debut was a fun and enjoyable watch, Alex Garland’s directorial debut was a stunning piece of filmmaking. He also toyed with the idea of artificial intelligence and created some of the tensest scenes in recent memory. Having an incredible cast and brilliant narrative Ex Machina would be a perfect film to be teamed up with Morgan.

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Author: Nathan Harris

Currently studying Film & Television studies and Media Writing at Derby University. Hopefully wanting to become a film critic/journalist.

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