‘Upgrade’ Review

upgrade_xlgUpgrade is a sci-fi action-horror film written and directed by Leigh Whannell starring Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, and Harrison Gilbertson. The story follows Grey Trace, a stay-at-home mechanic who gets a chip that controls his body implanted into his spine following a mugging that left him paralyzed and his wife dead. Soon the AI in the chip, known as STEM, turns Grey into an efficient and deadly fighting machine and helps him track down and get revenge on the muggers who murdered his wife. Leigh Whannell does a decent job directing the film. He does a good job making the film feel dark and gritty while keeping the world futuristic and sleek. He even uses an abnormal over the shoulder shot when first displaying Grey’s first time home that viewers will either enjoy or find off-putting. Marshall-Green is great as Grey Trace. As the main character, the audience spends the majority of the film with him. Seeing his transition from gritty mechanic, to depressed quadriplegic, to deadly vigilante is fascinating to watch. To see a man make so many transitions in a single film is almost unheard of. Once STEM is implanted in Grey his movements are noticeably different and his posture is unnaturally perfect because he is now more than a normal human. Marshall-Green’s performance is slightly stiffer and robotic as if he has to think about what he was doing. Benedict Hardie does well enough as the main villain, Fisk. He is revealed to be a former soldier and hired assassin with upgrades of his own. Watching the surprises his futuristic body had in store was exciting. Also his final battle with Grey was different than normal, full of parries and blocks, since they are both enhanced and can predict each other’s attacks. However, more development for him and his group of mercenaries would have made them more relatable and less disposable as villains. Simon Maiden is also great as the voice of STEM. He’s very polite and comes across as a deadlier AI version of Baymax from Big Hero 6. The best part about this film are the futuristic elements. They are designed to be believable to a certain degree. Much of the technology such as self-driving cars and drone technology is used today. Also, the messages about how even with advanced technology there will always be criminals who can find a way around the system and how our development of AI may be humanity’s undoing were the usual messages gathered from films of this nature. The action and combat sequences were well shot and easy to follow. The story is fun and exciting for two thirds of the film but takes a turn towards the end that muddles the rest of the story. Thus creating a few plot holes and some “why would they do that” moments. I give Upgrade a Decent 7/10. It’s a fun dark ride, but the ending may ruin the film for some viewers who expect the story to go a certain way.

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