Detailed Morgan Movie Review and Explanation
Morgan is a bit derivative in every way, but was still a fun romp through the AI underground.
Writing
Originality
Sheer Enjoyment
Cleverness
4.2Overall Score
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Detailed Morgan Movie Review and Explanation

Voight-Kampff-Test2Blade Runner has a scene, a scene that sets up deeper and more fundamental questions later on in the movie, wherein Deckard watches a video of a test being given to a replicant to determine if they were a human or not. It is this test that becomes the foundation of the movie and the cooked grenade that goes off later when Deckard uses the same test (the Voight-Kampf test) to test if Rachel is a replicant as well. Eventually, barely, Rachel is determined to be an imprinted replicant. She carried the memories of Tyrrel’s niece, so that even she wasn’t aware she was a replicant.

These are the questions that modern movies that grapple with AI tussle with. Sentience. Awareness. Emotion. “A hornet lands on your arm… I’d kill it.” These are the struggles that make AI movies worth watching. What does it mean to be human? What does it mean if a program can simulate similar ‘feelings’ or ‘passions’? Are they self aware? Does it make them human?

But as far as the art form of these sorts of movies, it is the ambiguity that drives these movies. The conjecture. Blade Runner was such an amazing movie because of the debate beyond the debate of AI. The debate revolving around Deckard’s AI-ness. Can a replicant so perfect test other replicants for their replicant-ness? Can they be so thoroughly implanted with human memories and desires that even they aren’t aware? Was Deckard a replicant?

This conversation happened to me once – and the guy it happened with occassionally will read my blog. And eventually, (when Morgan gets to the library) he will read this even I’m sure and will comment. It went something like this:

Me: “Man I adore Blade Runner. Just so dark and emotive on so many levels.”

Him: “I know, and dang, those action scenes – and the replicants coming back to earth to extend their lifespans beyond 4 years?! Brilliant.”

Me: “But the best part, the real head tweaker was that Harrison Ford was a replicant.”

Him: “Wait. WHAT? Deckard was a replicant?!? Stop. What?”

Me: “I’d apologize for spoiling it, but the movie came out in freaking 1982.”

Him: “A REPLICANT?”

But it was because of Ridley Scott’s delicate touch that gave Blade Runner such a long running legacy. It buried truths behind the truths. There were realities here that survived 30 years for some people. That is not what we have here with Morgan. Sure, most people will be intrigued or shocked somewhat by the ending (save for those of you that read here… no. You’ll be shocked that your first inclination was true.) But, though it was hamfisted and utterly indelicate in every way. It still was a blast of a movie and one that is worth dismantling and reviewing it’s internal pre-cog innards.

Morgan Movie Non-Spoiler Review

The setup is simple. Morgan, an artificially intelligent cyborg engineered robot thing… goes haywire and pops, stabbing one of the research facility employees in the eye. This literally, is the very first scene we are shown. And everything cascades from that one action. Lee Weathers is dispatched out quickly to the remote research facility in order to get a handle on the situation and report back to corporate and to determine whether the program should be shut down or not. In this way Morgan highly resembles Uncanny, or Ex Machina to a T. External auditor comes and reviews the AI subject and determines the future of everyone involved. Except that Morgan has a much much more violent pedigree to it than those two movie recommendations hint at. Which, to it’s credit, at least Morgan went off on it’s own direction at least to some degree.

Morgan Movie Explained in Detail

morgan-movie-explainedThis is probably the point in which those of you who haven’t seen the movie yet should find a way to see it and then come back later. It is a movie that is totally worth seeing. I enjoyed the writing, the action, the wound tight plot, and specifically the internal mechanics of the artificial intelligence dialogue. It really was a fun little movie and I’m sure you’ll get a kick out of it. Obviously it is no Ex Machina. But it brings it’s on unique strains of quality entertainment to the table. And I highly recommend even if the ending was completely unnecessary. So with those of you who have not seen it departed… right? You are departed? Good, great.

The larger question we go into Morgan with is, who is creating Morgan, and why? What is their agenda and what are they up to? We get a bit of evidence when Lee Weathers arrives, as she is a Risk Mitigation Specialist who knows how to determine whether or not a unit will be financially viable or not. But we aren’t ever given an idea of whether Morgan and the L series tests are meant to be militarized or just domestically utilized. We don’t know what “The Corporation’s” intentions are. By the way, The Corporation’s name was… I believe Syntex, not sure as to the spelling, because the name was only said once towards the last quarter of the movie. If someone can confirm the name of the Corp for me I’d appreciate it!

morgan-trailer-fox

L9-Morgan What Went Wrong

Well, we are given the indication that the problem with the L4 series was that they were too devoid of emotional feelings. They were stoics and therefore had a hard time integrating with the larger human population at large. And so Syntex decided that a new series of tests called Helsinki would need to be initiated. This entire program collapsed from within and one more attempt was made with a new series called the L9 series. It was these ‘replicants’, androids, that were given a wider range of emotions.

When L9-Morgan finally took root and started to succeed much rejoices was had by all. When Dr. Amy Menser began befriending Morgan and allowing her off of the property she started telling Morgan tales of a nearby lake that she would soon take her to. Mother though, (Dr. Cheng), realized the danger that Menser had caused to the research (even the world?) by allowing Morgan to leave the property, decided that Morgan was not allowed to leave her room anymore. This is the domino that caused the emotional (key word, emotional) outburst in Morgan. Resulting in a doctor losing her eyesight in one eye.

Morgan Movie Timeline and Backstory

Because I’m going straight for the juggler right away by starting with an unpacking of the back story and the linear chronology of the story that led up to what happened on the actual screen.

  • L4 series begins
  • L4-Lee Weathers is created
  • L4 series is determined to be lacking in emotional poise
  • L4 is put on ice
  • The Helsinki series is started
  • Eventually Helsinki implodes causing the deaths of 21 of the 30 people on the premises
  • Syntex sends a mop up team, led by Lee Weathers, to neutralize the chaos
  • The L9 series is started
  • L9-1 dies because of growth problems
  • L9-2 dies because of mental issues
  • L9-Morgan is started and seems to be working amazingly
  • Morgan becomes emotional and stabs Dr. Kathy Grief in the eye
  • Dr. Alan Shapiro is sent in to test Morgan’s psychological profile and viability
  • Dr. Shapiro dies… and everything rapidly goes downhill from here.

Morgan Movie Clean Up on Aisle Nine!!

As Syntex begins investigating more into the downward devolution of their L9 series they send in a Psychologist to see if Morgan can be riled to the point of danger. He does so. And this ends in his death. And after that the violence and the chaos rachets up to a 10. Which, in my opinion was a nice change after the stoic and heady beginnings of the movie. (And I love HEADY! haha. So that tells you it may have been a little too slow of a start?) Morgan decides basically that everyone in her way of getting to the lake was going to die, besides her friend Menser.

And so we are left with a battle between the L4 and L9 series. And yet, maybe some people didn’t get this before hand? Maybe? The film, produced by Ridley Scott (who really, in my humble opinion, should have known better) decided that we probably ought to explain to everyone exactly what just happened as the film dials down.

OK. YOU OUT THERE IN THE DARK? Lee. Well. She’s a robot. Yes? Oooh, that guy over there is shocked. Good thing we told them all. And well, she was made from the L4 series. And apparently she was the best cyborg we’d ever made, because she won the king of the hill battle we had set up for them both. Which brings me to my one and only real theory about this movie.

Morgan Movie Theory – Morgan & Lee – A Competition

The entirety of the movie was not a risk assessment or a larger evaluation of Morgan to see if she was safe. Syntex was in the habit of sending Lee Weathers out to these sites only to create a test for the current AI of the day. L4 locks in a battle with L9 to determine which model is the best one for their purposes. L4 locks in a battle with Helsinki in order to determine which unit is the better unit. No? And now that Lee walked out alive, and Morgan was dead, we knew that L4 was the series with the best potential for future development and growth.

Morgan Movie Conclusions

I had a great time watching Morgan. It was intriguing and interesting from beginning to end… well, until they began to tell me everything we already knew that was. If you adore movies of this variety, then definitely you should check out the following movies that we have discussed here at some length already…

The One I LoveUncannyMidnight Special, Selfless (which I will be reviewing here soon), Ex Machina and most obviously, Blade Runner. Are there others that you can think of that are worth watching? Totally want to hear about them. Like pronto. Thanks! And thanks for reading. Comment below if you think there was something else going on here I totally am missing. Definitely didn’t really point my brain at this one like I would at others. So help me out!

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10 Responses

  1. Steve

    I think your review is spot on except I have one thought to offer on the very ending. It was quite clear that lee was an AI so why at the end show the scene with her at the restaurant and even more so why focus on her doing the same hand thing we saw morgan do before she would snap. I offer this for consideration, throughout the movie there were several hints to the L9 having increased cognitive abilities. From her uncanny ability to know facts about people she had just met to the doctor saying so with reference to her cognitive range. Even her ability to control her room from her mind. Therefore i submit that it could be a possibility that the scene at the very end was hinting that maybe in her final moments morgan took over lee’s mind….which would explain the hand thing at the end or we are just to believe that all AI cyborg things display that identifying gesture. Food for thought. That was my initial thought immediately after seeing the movie. Curious to hear back any feedback

    Reply
    • Michael Robinson

      Agreed completely. At the end i took it that Morgan had actually won. She downloaded into the l4. Morgan was infact superior.

      Reply
  2. Arsh

    well, lee knowing about the project, and having past experience with bringing up chaos at Helsinki, definitely gives her (lee) an upper hand if it is a battle between l4 and l9, plus, man experience counts in the lousiest of jobs, why would they ignore it here. morgan always had a sophisticated environment to interacting with people and truth , while lee was all out there in freedom. The movie was filled with unexplained stuff as to killing the deer and morgan still having child behaviouristic and cognition attributes(where she gets pissed of like a child when she is withheld to move out of the facility and harming the doctor’s eye and similar incidences), though the telepathic mind reading is a bit unexplained as if it was to be true, morgan would have easily read her mother’s mind and knew what was the purpose she was created to. The movie clearly shows lee given authority and control, while morgon getting pissed off and prisoned for showing child reflexes by her overly developed physical and mental attributes which leads into killing animals and people 😐 . On the other hand, what motive does lee weathers have to have a to death fight with morgon to show superiority.If lee can make a fool out of the research investigators and kill them after her purpose is accomplished, It would be a piece of cake for her to kill those controlling her and take over the company and later taking over the world :). So, at conclusion the movie is trying to portray an out of world experience , something related to enlightenment and grey light , lol. This world is a strange place.

    Reply
  3. Donald

    I really want to ask this, at 23 minutes and about 19 seconds Lee meets Dr. Cheng and Doctor Cheng asks “have we not met before?” Is there significance to that?

    Reply
  4. Mx

    Hand gesture in the end probably means that she finally became self-aware aswell and ,, realizised” that she has been used as a tool.

    Reply
  5. Brett

    i might be wrong, but, i thought Morgan was a synthetic person made from synthetic DNA. Not an android/cyborg.

    Reply
  6. Wes

    Morgan’s “twist” was easy to guess based on Kate Mara’s stand-offish attitude right from the get-go. No surprise there to anyone over 30 who wasn’t dazzled by “Inception” or thinks that film is worth drooling over.

    In any case, a regrettable dud of a film. “Lucy” blows this lackluster time-waster (with a solid cast that managed to thoroughly waste Paul Giamatti) out the water…and it’s not like THAT film was extra-special or even akin to the very watchable “Hanna.”

    Reply
  7. Michael

    Your review was missing a lot of things… but dont worry the movie had a lot of holes in it as well… It was worth watching but movies made today as opposed to the days of Bladerunner well there’s no comparison; thats for another day. Your review missed the scenes that required translation from Chinese to English, first when Lee meets Dr Cheng and then when Morgan is about to kill Dr Cheng. I cant find any translation anywhere about this in the internet and I had hoped that you would cover it. I need to find myself a cool Chinese friend as clearly this is the way Hollywood is going with China becoming the new empire (that we all learn Chinese which might be easier). One last thing the last scene where Lee puts her hands together and palms up the same way Morgan did, does that mean she is happy to be a killer? Its these sort of questions and there are thousands of them, that is the difference between this and a film like bladerunner, its not that we don’t want some mystery but there’s thousands of loose ends and not tying them together is the problem – everybody has a different answer. That and the better script. Oh and to the guy that compared this to Lucy, Lucy was rubbish so bad that they are having another crack in Ghost in the Shell, which is basically Lucy meets Virtousity meets Aeon Flux (now i’m showing my age) . So the correct order is Bladerunner then a tie between Morgan and Ex-Machina then Lucy.

    Reply
    • LaMarr Wells

      First, I truly enjoyed the movie. I’ve never seen Bladerunner, unfortunately, but will now.
      Next, Michael, I was frustrated by the internet’s lack of Mandarin scene translations as well but I eventually stumbled upon a site which gives the entire script in English. Google Morgan (2016) Movie Script SS. (SpringfieldSpringfield) I’ll allow you to find and enjoy that for yourself, easy enough though.
      I thought the foreshadowing of Kathy calling Lee an assassin was brilliant as it was intentionally meant to come off as figurative so early into the film, or maybe “hands-off” is a better term than “figurative”. As the plot progresses and the viewer is more privy to the backstory and intricacies of the characters, we can look back to Kathy’s zinger with some “ahaa!” amusement as Lee is a very “hands-on” literal assassin.
      Mx, I think your explanation of the hand gesture at the end is highly plausible. They were careful not to make us certain of Morgan being deceitful in her behaviors initially in the film, just wary of the possibility. But I believe that it is only when she makes the hand gesture initially that truly understands her true nature, though she grapples with it subconsciously from the moment she kills the deer, even more so after the arrival of Lee. Lee has experienced a far greater sense of freedom and knows exactly what she is, but hadn’t yet had the experience of confronting what she wasn’t. Perhaps that hand gesture was truly an AI evolutionary moment. She clearly grappled with some emotional shifts in several of her interactions with Skip where she appeared to genuinely want to engage him and not merely for informations sake. All the way up until he asks about Amy, which seems to bring her back to her directive. (Remember how flustered she was about the Skip/Amy relationship on the porch? Very “unstoic”, naturally and personally inquisitive. A tinge of the jealous emotion which would be a bit of foreshadowing from the porch since he was jealous of Morgan and died because Lee was a bit jealous about him asking after Amy twice? Maybe?)

      Reply

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