The script for Morgan apparently sat on the Hollywood Blacklist for several years. It was eventually taken up by Luke Scott, the younger son of Ridley Scott. Luke had worked in various capacities on his fathers films as art director and second unit director before making his directorial debut here. The film is produced through Ridleys Scott Free production company and Ridley takes a producer credit.
I had some anticipation of Morgan. For one, it has managed to bring together a very impressive cast line-up Rooney Mara, Paul Giamatti, Toby Jones, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Michelle Yeoh and Brian Cox which you feel should say something about the projects worth. However, as it settled in, the plot seemed awfully similar to Ex Machina an individual travelling to a remote wilderness laboratory to assess an android/A.I. that is kept in a class cage, only to find the creation has developed far more than its creators anticipated and is presenting a danger. (For that matter, the same plot is not dissimilar to the one that also served for The Silence of the Lambs (1991), albeit with a genius serial killer instead of a machine).
The film starts well as Luke Scott creates a fascination around Morgan. This builds to the scene where Morgan is placed inside the cage with psychologist Paul Giamatti and he insistently probes her emotional responses. (On the other hand, this scene never entirely rings credible as something a psychologist would do there seems too much undisguised glee in the way Giamatti cruelly twists the knife, suggesting that Morgan could be terminated, which would almost certainly be against ethical guidelines for a psychologist. This is also something that has been designed to paint Giamattis psychologist as a one-dimensional caricature his entering with mind already made up and high-handed attitude has the effect of painting a large red target on his forehead).
On the other hand, Morgan quickly becomes far less interesting than it suggests it is going to be. The script seems to willingly avoid any of the ethical debates and questions about the nature of the machine that Ex Machina engaged in. The arguments in favour of Morgan are all anthrocentric ones that she has become like a child, is capable of play and emotions while the deeper and more interesting questions that Paul Giamattis psychologist probes at about whether she has simply learned a series of responses is left unquestioned. Moreover, while the first half of the film starts off in the direction of an Ex Machina derivative, the second half arrives wholly into the arena of The Terminator (1984) with Morgan being no more than an amok android running about killing people. All of the questions about A.I. disappear and Morgan becomes nothing other than an evil machine that has to be destroyed.
This brings one to the other major issue of the film that finally nails the lid into Morgans coffin. [PLOT SPOILERS]. Namely, the end revelation that Rooney Maras corporate assassin has been an android all along. This is a twist that seems wholly implausible. Firstly, the whole thrust of the story is with the question of whether a newly created machine being is stable or should be eliminated. To then suggest that while the corporation is concerning itself with these dilemmas, they already had another machine that is so sophisticated that it is indistinguishable from human and would appear not to be aware of its own nature, seems patently ludicrous.