Movie Review: Upgrade (2018)
Upgrade, the latest project from the creatively twisted minds at Blumhouse Tilt, has landed in theaters. The science fiction/horror film was written and directed by Leigh Whannel, a longtime collaborator of James Wan. The film follows a man who receives a chip that controls his body after a mugging leaves him as a quadriplegic. The film stars Logan Marshall-Green as Grey Trace, the man who receives the chip. Betty Gabriel, Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie, and Melanie Vallejo also play supporting characters in the story. While the film only hit about 1,400 theaters this weekend, it is on track to already surpass its three million dollar production budget.
Set in the not too distant future, the film begins with a look at the life that Grey Trace leads with his wife, Asha. Grey is a stay-at-home mechanic who works on traditional gasoline vehicles and is distrustful toward technology while Asha works for a tech company called Cobolt. Grey has Asha join him in returning a car to a client, Eron Keen, who is actually the head of a rival tech company called Vessel. On their way back home, their A.I. car malfunctions, and they are attacked by a group of men. The incident leaves Grey a quadriplegic, but when he covertly has a chip titled STEM implanted, he regains use of his body and sets off to settle the score.
I have to admit that I do not see a lot of Blumhouse pictures in theater since a lot of them have creepy or scary storylines, but I genuinely enjoyed this movie. I thought the premise was familiar, but the STEM implant really does add additional layers to the story. Through the use of STEM, the story delivers intense action sequences as well as hilarious moments. Also, the world building in this movie is pretty fantastic for a film that only cost three million dollars. The visuals looked great, and it was not hard to believe that this film took place in a not too distant future.
Also, the movie was just a well-scripted story. It has a Robocop and Death Wish kind of vibe to it while also making the story its own. It focuses on the story of this one guy who has lost so much, and it also leans into several questions and observations about technology. So much of the world they present functions on huge technological advancements, and the question arises as to just how good that is. In addition to a solid science fiction action story, it is also accompanied by excellent performances. I think that Logan Marshall-Green does a great job conveying Grey’s story, and while many of the names involved may not be recognizable, they all add something great to the film.
I found Upgrade to be worth a watch with its interesting concept and well choreographed action sequences. However, be prepared for its R-rating to show in some unsettling sequences and a lot of gore. In Grey’s pursuit of revenge, a fair amount of blood is shed, and those sequences contribute to the horror portion of the film. Despite this aspect, though, the movie is fairly nonstop with the audience constantly waiting to see if Grey is successful in his quest. I would say that anyone who appreciates a good revenge tale with a science fiction flair will want to treat themselves to a viewing of Upgrade in theaters.
Mollie is a film enthusiast, aspiring writer/screenwriter, and a lover of all things Harry Potter, Star Wars, and Doctor Who. She is the co-founder of The Digital Shore (@thedigitalshore) and Above The Line (@atl_movies). You can follow her many adventures through Twitter and Instagram at @mcbeach.