Star cast can't save Luke Scott's misbegotten 'Morgan'

Morgan is a heinously overproduced student film complete with actors who are too good for it and a twist ending you’d guess even if director Luke Scott weren’t the offspring of Blade Runner‘s Ridley Scott. A generous person could call Morgan a prequel to Blade Runner. It’s about the creation of genetically altered replicants created by the Evil Corporation.

The praiseworthy actor Kate Mara gives her first boring performance as a “risk management” specialist from Evil Co. Power-coiffed and business-suited, Mara imitates Lindsay Crouse’s own numbness as she drives up to a remote forest lab in her Mercedes. While driving, she takes an info-dumping call from her boss (Brian Cox): “We don’t want another Helsinki . . . Preserve the asset.”

The “L9 Asset” is Morgan (Anya Taylor-Joy from The Witch), a depressed, grayish girloid in a hoodie being studied by the scientists who engineered her. Morgan has just all but gouged out the eye of one of the researchers (Jennifer Jason Leigh, recovering from the assault, plays it stoned from heavy pain medication). Despite this security breach, the scientists conduct themselves slackly, coupling up, drinking in the evening and not giving Morgan the healthy distance the creature deserves.

The cold Chinese physician (Michelle Yeoh) who runs the project floats over her co-workers, keeping to herself the details of the Helsinki fiasco. Strangest of all this medical pack is Rose Leslie’s Amy, who can’t stop gaping at Morgan. We’re not sure why.

It isn’t until a shrink (Paul Giamatti) arrives that the trouble really begins. Giamatti’s snideness gives some juice to this desiccated thriller. Too bad his only dramatic function here is to be the peasant who waves the torch in Frankenstein’s face. With a cast of characters determined to always put themselves in unnecessary danger—they keep doing what we yell at them not to do—and with brutal fight scenes to balance the mawkishness, Morgan seems created for the Svengoolie of the 2030s to mock.

‘Morgan’ is playing at Sonoma 9 Cinemas, 200 Siesta Way, Sonoma. 707.935.1234.