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It’s difficult to think about Morgan without thinking about all of the similar movies that have come before it. We’ve been writing stories about man’s thirst for creating life since horror was conceived, but not all of these films are made equal. When it comes to Morgan, I truly feel like we’ve hit the middle of the road. It’s not as bonkers as Ex Machina or stupid as some of its predecessors, but it’s clean, compact, and there is just enough intrigue to hold your attention. Even though there is little originality in the story, the parts that are unique truly do make a difference.

Luke Scott’s thriller starts off with a pretty banal plot. A risk management employee from a corporate office has come to visit a lab where a doctor has recently been injured by an experiment. The corporate employee (Kate Mara) is cold, logical, and is obviously there to shut the place down. The doctors, on the other hand, are the opposite. They’ve formed emotional bonds that make them feel more like family than a lab team, and they’re deeply protective of their experiment, Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy), an incredibly intelligent and quite strong engineered human. In fact, they were treating her almost like a child, until one day, she stabbed one of them (Jennifer Jason Leigh) after being told she would not be able to leave her cell and go outside.

Mara’s job is to analyze the situation and decide if the entire project should be terminated, which does not make her many friends. She brings a psychologist along, whose job is to present Morgan with a psychological test, and it’s at this moment, the mundane foundation of the plot, becomes human. It’s clear that Morgan truly thinks of the scientists as her friends and family and she really does believe they’d do whatever they can to protect her, yet she becomes confused and afraid when it begins to dawn on her that if they really loved her, why would they allow any of this to happen to her? It’s a truly suspenseful and anxiety ridden moment, driven by Paul Giamatti’s insanity-laden portrayal of a corporate psychologist. His character is made to be hated from the very moment he steps on screen, and it’s so fun to watch.

Once Morgan is on the loose, it transforms into a completely different film. Instead of ruminating on what it means to create new life, Scott dives head first into pure action. I know incredibly little about action movies, but I do know fights are more fun when people have met their match. Morgan pushing down desk jockey doctors is one thing, but when Mara gets the opportunity to show off some skills of her own, that’s when things become interesting. Both characters are psychotically driven, to the point where they will absolutely anything to get what they want, and watching that seemingly unstoppable force hit an unmovable object is thrilling.

That’s not to say, Taylor-Joy and Mara are the only ones pulling their weight. Rose Leslie does well as Morgan’s freewheeling, rule breaking behaviorist, while Jennifer Jason Leigh has a small but heartbreaking role as the scientist who Morgan attacked. Everyone pulls their weight in different ways, and that’s really one of the things that sets this movie a part. If you want guns and punches, and small amounts of blood, Morgan has plenty of that too, but it excels when it’s showing off some of it’s other strong points. It’s truly a movie where you are always questioning who is in control, who has the upper hand, and what exactly that means.

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