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Film / Morgan

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"Do you know the cruelest thing you can do to someone you've locked in a room? Press their face to the window."
Dr. Cheng

Morgan is a 2016 science fiction horror film directed by Luke Scott, son of producer Ridley Scott. It stars Kate Mara, Anya Taylor-Joy (as the title character), Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Paul Giamatti.

Lee Weathers, a risk assessment officer for a biotech company, is dispatched to a remote lab facility to assess their most recent work, a synthetic human named Morgan, and to determine whether or not Morgan's attack on one of the scientists merits terminating the program. Things go downhill in a hurry from there.

This film provided examples of:

  • Action Girl: Morgan and Lee both show great skills at unarmed combat or with guns. It's because both are artificial human super soldiers.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Lee is able to escape from Morgan's room by shimmying up the chimney-like vent and kicking out the skylight.
  • And I Must Scream: Morgan after her escape attempt is strapped to a medical gurney, futilely pleading I Don't Want to Die. When she's woken later on, she attacks those she mistakenly thinks have betrayed her.
  • Anyone Can Die: By the end of the movie, the only named character still alive is Lee.
  • Apologetic Attacker: The scientists apologize to Morgan before trying to terminate her, and Lee apologizes to Skip before killing him as the last witness.
  • Artificial Human: Morgan is the result of nanotech-altered DNA, and the first in her series to live for longer than a few hours after "birth". Lee is one as well, from an earlier series.
  • As You Know: Dr Ziegler uses these exact words when providing exposition on the program.
  • The Bait: When Lee can't find Morgan in the woods, she fires her rifle in the air to lure her.
  • Bifauxnen: Lee's style is basically this, she wears a suit and rocks the pixie cut, giving her a somewhat androgynous look while also being quite pretty.
  • Boom, Headshot!: A gutshot Ted Brenner staggers into the control room, then gets killed by an off-screen Morgan firing a bullet through the side of his head.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Dr Shapiro tries to invoke an emotional response from Morgan by threatening to have her terminated and demanding to know what her response to that is. He finds out.
  • Cabin Fever: Amy takes Morgan out past the fences into the woods and talks of showing her a lake. Morgan violently attacks one of the other scientists after she's confined to her room and informed that she won't be let out again.
  • Character Tics: Both times that Morgan becomes violent while seated at a table, she puts her hands palm down on the edge of the table, then turns them palm up. Lee does the same thing at the end of the movie.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Played straight — the rifle shown leaning against the wall in Skip's quarters is used in the final act.
  • Clean Up Crew: A corporate security team is shown Zipping Up The Bodybags, kicking gravel over the blood, and recovering Morgan's body from the lake.
  • Color-Coded Characters: Lee wears black or white, indicating her Black-and-White Morality. Morgan wears grey.
  • Colour Wash: Most scenes have a cold grey/blue/green/overcast colour palette, with flashbacks in sunny natural colour.
  • Conveniently Timed Attack from Behind: Lee is about to shoot Brenner when she's shot by Amy with the tranquilizer pistol. Later it looks like Morgan might kill Amy too, when Lee appears behind her (despite last seen impaled on a tree branch).
  • Deadly Hug: Morgan gives Cheng a forehead kiss, then smothers her.
  • Driven to Suicide: Dr Ziegler hangs himself because he thinks he can't stop Morgan's termination.
  • Emotionless Girl: Lee shows no real emotion toward anybody in the film, and kills calmly with no signs of remorse. It turns out she's an artificial human who's literally engineered to lack emotions.
  • Eye Scream: The film opens with Morgan stabbing out the left eye of one of the scientists.
  • Foreshadowing: Lee shows no emotion, is the only one able to fight Morgan without being taken out in seconds, and later endures a wound that would kill or at least put down other people. It turns out she's an artificial human Super-Soldier too, from an earlier model.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Both Lee and Morgan have one. They're female but have names often used for males. It perhaps reflects their somewhat androgynous looks and being both skilled fighters, a typically masculine trait.
  • Ice Queen: Lee Weathers. Not because she's a Consummate Professional, but because she's an early model of synthetic human that lacks Morgan's emotions.
  • I Know You're Watching Me: Lee uses the computer in her quarters to view a live image of Morgan in her room. At that point, Morgan walks over to stare into the camera.
  • In the Hood: Morgan spends most of the movie in a grey hoodie.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: It's very clear who is and isn't sympathetic to Morgan based on whether they refer to Morgan as "she" or "it."
  • It's All My Fault: Despite Morgan blinding her in one eye, Kathy insists that Morgan is not to blame.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • The scientists want Shapiro to do Morgan's psych evaluation with him one side of the glass wall and Morgan on the other. He replies that if he has to be protected, "then it's already failed its evaluation." They let him into Morgan's room to do the evaluation face to face.
    • Morgan says that the scientists raising her are her friends, but Shapiro points out that a friend would not confine her the way she is being confined. Morgan agrees and decides to Leave No Survivors, except for Amy who secretly let her out into the woods in the first place.
  • Kangaroo Court: Even before the psych interview commences, Shapiro states to Dr Ziegler that it's a foregone conclusion. His attempt to anger Morgan was likely him hoping to provoke a response that will justify her termination.
  • Kubrick Stare: It's no surprise that Shapiro is about to die violently right after Morgan does this.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Lee kills the scientists that Morgan doesn't as damage control.
  • Love Is a Weakness: The scientists' empathy for Morgan gets them killed. At the end of the movie, Lee's employers conclude that she is a superior model due to her lack of the distracting emotions that caused Morgan to run amok.
  • Made of Iron: Both Morgan and Lee, which turns out to be foreshadowing in the latter case as Lee's another artificial human like her. They both can endure wounds that would kill or put down a normal human.
  • Man Bites Man: Morgan kills Dr. Shapiro by biting a chunk out of his neck; he bleeds out before he can be saved.
  • Mercy Kill: The events of the movie are triggered by Morgan killing a badly injured deer while out in the woods with Amy; fearing what this could mean, her outside activities are curtailed. When Lee is injured in a similar fashion to the deer, Morgan balks at finishing her off, which backfires when Lee turns out to be Made of Iron.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • The movie opens with Morgan suddenly stabbing Kathy during their lunch together.
    • Morgan is comforting a dying deer, then... Neck Snap.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Morgan is horrified after killing the deer, and later her 'mother', Dr Cheng. Amy in turn is shocked by Morgan's rampage of destruction once she escapes.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: Morgan is raised with love by her creators, but she turns against them all the same because she was engineered to be a weapon.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • Morgan is implied to have knocked Shapiro across the room with some kind of psychic power. Actually she slides across the table and kicks him in the chest. Though it's not clear how she knocks out the lights right after this incident.
    • It also gives the impression that the film follows a Trapped-with-Monster Plot with Morgan stalking people through a darkened facility in Lock Down. In truth the action moves quickly to the outside, and the horror tension is secondary to the What Measure Is a Non-Human? theme.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Darren refuses to kill Morgan, working with Brenner to help her escape. As Morgan was sedated at the time, she doesn't know this, and kills both of them.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever happened in Helsinki, an early experiment that somehow killed 21 researchers inside of an hour. Dr Cheng was a survivor, and as a result is the only scientist who recognizes the necessity of terminating Morgan.
  • Notice This: The scene where Morgan attacks Kathy is seen via CCTV with a Viewer-Friendly Interface. This highlights a gesture Morgan makes with her hands, which is repeated later, and not just by Morgan. See Character Tics, above, for details.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Played for drama - Morgan doesn't realise the scientists are trying to save her because she was unconscious. She therefore attacks them the moment she regains consciousness.
  • Oracular Urchin: Morgan has a bit of a precognitive ability that lets her glean information about people before meeting them. Using this on Dr. Shapiro does not turn out well.
  • Parental Substitute: Morgan views Dr. Cheng as her mother, and doesn't react well to her stating otherwise. Lee also makes a point of praising Cheng's work, implying that even she has regard for her Creator.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Morgan looks like a petite girl in her late teens, but is capable of taking down a far larger man with ease, because she's an artificial human with Super-Strength.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Literally; Morgan thinks her friends have betrayed her when they are actually trying to rescue her.
  • Reluctant Mad Scientist: The evil corporate scientist trope is played differently here, as the research team have come to emphasize with Morgan and so are reluctant to allow her to be terminated.
  • Smart People Play Chess: When Lee meets Morgan face-to-face, she's playing chess in her cell.
  • Super Breeding Program: The ultimate goal of people who had Morgan born. Perhaps they'll have learned better after this mess.
  • Super-Soldier: Morgan is an artificial human made to be a soldier better than normal humans, having Super-Strength and shrugging wounds off that would kill or disable them. Lee is also one, from an earlier model.
  • Super-Strength: Morgan and Lee both have this due to being artificial human super soldiers, throwing people at least their size or larger around easily.
  • Tempting Fate:
    • Morgan is told by Amy and Shapiro to just Be Yourself during her psych evaluation. As she was created to be a weapon, this doesn't turn out the way they expect.
    • At the end of the movie, Corporate concludes that Morgan was the inferior model while Lee Weathers is "perfect". We then see Lee making the same gesture that Morgan made before she went on a rampage.
  • These Hands Have Killed: Morgan's Character Tic is explained when we see her making the gesture after killing the deer. Lee does the same at the end of the movie, having killed Morgan by holding her under the lake until she drowned.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Shapiro insists that he can't interview Morgan on the other side of a glass wall, despite Morgan severely injuring the last person to interview her face-to-face. Then he proceeds to lose his temper and incite Morgan, insisting that she 'demonstrate' her feelings of anger if she's unable to express them.
    • The staff are reluctant to flat-out shoot Morgan, despite witnessing her kill their colleagues. Morgan has no such restrictions except when dealing with Lee, whom she apparently senses is akin to herself. Morgan misses several opportunities to finish off Lee, and is therefore killed because Lee has no empathy whatsoever.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: The research staff have dart guns with these to knock out Morgan if she gets violent. Lee is also knocked out with one.
  • Twist Ending: The movie ends with the head of the biotech company talking with one of his employees about the failure of the project, and revealing that Lee is from an earlier version of the synthetic humanoid weapon program. As they talk, Lee's shown sitting in a diner, and she makes the same hand gesture that Morgan did.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Lee is a "risk management consultant", but it quickly becomes obvious that she's a Corporate Samurai.
  • Upgrade vs. Prototype Fight: Lee is actually an L4 series artificial human, lacking even the slight empathy that Morgan has. Because of this empathy, Morgan leaves Lee bleeding out, only to be killed by her within minutes.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Lee is told that, as Morgan is still a child, she has the right to make mistakes. Lee curtly informs them that "it" has no rights.
  • Window Love: Morgan and Amy (but not Lee, who doesn't respond when Morgan presses her palm to the glass).
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Morgan is in awe when she finally sees the lake, and thinks that Heaven must look the same.
  • Younger Than They Look: Morgan is only 5 but looks to be in her mid- to late teens.