A cyborg experiment at a remote scientific facility goes perilously awry in chilly sci-fi thriller Morgan, finds Jason Best.

Morgan Kate Mara Lee Weathers

Don’t let it out.

Luke Scott, son of Ridley, makes his directorial debut with Morgan, a chilly but gripping sci-fi thriller about a cyborg experiment that goes disturbingly haywire.

Indeed, the project has already begun to go awry before the film’s opening credits. Via an overhead surveillance camera we get a sketchy glimpse of a troubling incident at a remote research facility where a group of scientists are busy raising the cyborg of the title.

Played by Anya Taylor-Joy (so good in The Witch and Split, and equally impressive here), Morgan is five years old, looks like a hoodie-wearing teenager and is actually a synthetic human. And the dangerous strop we’ve just witnessed is what brings Kate Mara’s risk management consultant Lee Weathers to the facility.

Morgan Anya Taylor-Joy Kate Mara

‘Morgan’s not a she. It’s an it.’

Despite this recent episode, the scientists – who include an avuncular Toby Jones, a reserved Michelle Yeoh and Rose Leslie’s gentle behaviourist – remain fondly proud of their creation. However, Mara’s sleekly efficient corporate troubleshooter is sentiment free. Her eye on her employers’ bottom line, she insists that ‘Morgan’s not a she. It’s an it.’ In truth, when the icy, power-dressed Lee goes face to face with Morgan, it’s a toss up which of the two seems the more inhuman.

Of course, a film exploring the puzzles and perils of artificial intelligence is nothing new. Indeed, Scott’s movie shares its synthetic DNA with several of his father’s films, from Blade Runner to Alien: Covenant, not to mention Alex Garland’s Ex Machina. Morgan ranks somewhere in the middle. The plot is intriguing and the action crisp; and if the final payoff doesn’t have quite the satisfying snap of Ex Machina’s ending, the strong ensemble of characters (far more vividly drawn than the Covenant crew) make this a rewarding sci-fi venture.

Certificate 15. Runtime 92 mins. Director Luke Scott

Morgan debuts on Sky Cinema Premiere on Saturday 1 July. Available on Blu-ray & DVD from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.