Review: ‘Morgan’ tests the limits of humanity, logic

A prestige cast headlines this sci-fi thriller about a synthetic human with a mind of her own

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Meet Morgan. She’s a 5-year-old synthetic human who looks and talks like a full-grown teenager and will climb across the table and stab you in the eyeball if she doesn’t like the way the conversation is going.

That last part is a glitch in her system. So a consultant is called in to assess the damages and see if she should be saved or scrapped in “Morgan,” a twisty sci-fi thriller with a prestige cast and a familiar “don’t trust the robots!” bend. (Morgan is not a robot, but you get the drift.)

Kate Mara is Lee, the consultant who visits the hidden labs where Morgan is being studied by a team of scientists. Upon her arrival, she is instructed by her boss on the phone to do whatever she can to avoid “another Helsinki.”

So right off the bat there is tension in the air, and director Luke Scott (Ridley’s son) does a fine job of sustaining an air of icy, antiseptic cool.

Yet as the bodies start piling up, as they tend to do in movies like these, “Morgan” relies on too many characters making decisions well below their intelligence level in order to keep the plot pushing forward. Suspension of disbelief only goes so far when at any point, any character can make a logical decision and force the credits to start rolling.

That said, the needle mover in “Morgan” is Anya Taylor-Joy, who plays the title character with a mixture of vulnerability and detached humanity that makes her like the world’s most frightening teenager.

Already a scene-stealer in this year’s “The Witch,” Taylor-Joy is enjoying a breakthrough year and setting the stage for big things to come. She’s the humanity that keeps “Morgan’s” heart beating.

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Rated R: for brutal violence, and some language

Running time: 91 minutes