Critics' Pick

Morgan (R)

Horror 92 min. September 2, 2016
By April Wolfe
Nepotism is occasionally a positive, and not just for the direct beneficiary. Ridley Scott gave us Alien, with heroine Ripley and a memorable cast of ne'er-do-wells and villains with defined personalities. And now Scott's son, Luke, who's been shadowing his dad on his last few big-budget films, is delivering unto us a sci-fi thriller that would make any father proud. Morgan isn't perfect. I called the ending 20 minutes in, but Scott is returning the ensemble thriller to its roots with something far more important than an airtight story: compelling, well-drawn characters and the talented actors to play them!

Toby Jones, an elastic, perennial entertainer, is Dr. Ziegler, the gentle, misguided scientist/father figure to a genetically modified child, Morgan. Michelle Yeoh (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) is Dr. Cheng, the cautious and concerned "mother" to said creature. The GMO killer teen is played by Anya Taylor-Joy, the breakout lead in horror hit The Witch. All Morgan wants is to be human and free, but she can't shake her inclination to maim her scientist friends.

Yes, this is a well-worn premise. Scott creates tension in a single location, a country house in mossy-green remote Northern Ireland, saving his best set pieces for the second half. He ramps up the tension to the breaking point. Also, Jennifer Jason Fucking Leigh is in this movie, as Dr. Kathy Grieff, who loses an eye pretty quickly to Morgan's stabbing prowess. And then there's Vinette Robinson (Sherlock), Chris Sullivan (The Knick) and Paul Goddamn Giamatti. Top this all off with Kate Mara playing Lee Weathers, the corporate "risk-assessment" contractor/assassin, and I doubt any movie this year will even come near the greatness of this ensemble.
Luke Scott Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy, Toby Jones, Rose Leslie, Boyd Holbrook, Michelle Yeoh, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Paul Giamatti Seth W. Owen Ridley Scott, Michael Schaefer, Mark Huffam 20th Century Fox

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