What is the defining characteristic of humanity? What separates us from the rest? Is it compassion? Love? Pain? Fury? These are the questions many science fiction films have grappled with, from 2001 to last year’s Ex Machina. Morgan is the next in line.
Much of the tension in Morgan stems from characters arguing over the eponymous A.I.’s humanness. This argument itself may be well-trod territory in the genre, but there is an undercurrent of repressed intensity in Morgan similar to that of its title character.
This undercurrent comes to a head in a spell-binding interaction between Paul Giamatti’s psyche analyst and Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy). It is a scene that is impossible for the film to match as it progresses into its final act, which is a detriment to the film only in that one cannot forget the inciting conversation that came before.
The performances of Taylor-Joy, Giamatti, and Kate Mara are what prop this otherwise basic thriller up. As the film unravels in exactly the direction one would expect, it is these performances that keep the film moving.
Morgan is at its essence a by-the-books thriller with strong performances and adequate tension. It is not mind blowing by any stretch of the imagination, but it does the job with what it puts forth. Certainly it does not provide something so minuscule that it deserves an opening day matinee screening with a single attendee (myself).
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—Alex Brannan (@TheAlexBrannan)