Does artificial intelligence pose a danger to the future of humans? Will it all go pear-shaped for people? In evolutionary terms, are we the gorillas to the machines’ humans? Anxiety about AI has been the subject of many films recently: from ‘Her’ to ‘Ex Machina’. Now comes ‘Morgan’, a Frankenstein-like tale for the twenty-first century, directed by Luke Scott (son of ‘Blade Runner’ director Ridley Scott).
The monster in this sci-fi fable is Morgan, who looks like a little girl, but is actually a new form of life – a human-AI hybrid developed by a mega-corporation for unspecified weapons purposes. Scott has assembled a cracking cast, and the build-up is incredibly sinister – despite some distracting cardboard dialogue. Kate Mara, channelling Jodie Foster in ‘The Silence of the Lambs’, plays Lee Weathers, the company’s risk evaluator. Lee is sent to a creepy-looking house where a group of scientists (played by Toby Jones and Jennifer Jason Leigh among others) have developed Morgan, who is five years old, but already the size of a teenager and starting to show signs of having kinetic powers.
Morgan has also just stabbed one of her minders in the face with a pen, ripping out an eyeball, hence Mara’s arrival, with Paul Giamatti in tow as a psychiatrist. The scientists are devoted to their ‘little breakthrough’: they treat Morgan as a child, even though they’re supposed to call her ‘it’. Is she equally attached to them? Or, like a cat, is she exploiting their pathetic human need to nurture, biding her time to strike? What ‘Morgan’ lacks in philosophy and ideas, it makes up for in bone-crunching violence as we discover the answer.