A brutal mugging leaves Grey Trace paralyzed in the hospital and his beloved wife dead. A billionaire inventor soon offers Trace a cure — an artificial intelligence implant called STEM that will enhance his body. Now able to walk, Grey finds that he also has superhuman strength and agility — skills he uses to seek revenge against the thugs who destroyed his life. (From IDMB)
After first seeing the trailers for Upgrade, I must admit that I expected another generic film playing off of the same tropes. This is a concept that you’ve seen a thousand times: a man and his wife are very happy together, and then the wife is killed, and our main protagonist hunts down his wife’s killers. One of the problems with Upgrade is that it follows this normal outline, however it does just enough to differentiate itself from other films like it.
I think the most enjoyable aspect of Upgrade is the universe that the film takes place in. This is a futuristic film, that takes place in a environment that doesn’t seem all that far fetched. The fact that they were able to make such a convincing universe with so small of a budget, is really impressive. The best way to describe it would be Blade Runner meets John Carpenter. This is a pretty high compliment if you ask me. The film is also very well directed by Leigh Whannell, and he does some really cool stuff with some fight scenes. Logan Marshall-Green is also great as the lead. A lot of the plot revolves around the discourse he has with the voice of the computer chip in his head that is controlling his limbs. His reactions are the best part of these interactions, as he seems horrified at some of the things he is doing to other, but not in control of.
While this a very entertaining movie that doesn’t mean it is without problems. The biggest one, would be lack of character development. While the main character is completely flushed out, no one else gets any real background in the movie. The cop and also the mom are the biggest examples, of characters that just kind of hang around and don’t really factor into the story. The start is also a bit slow, but the film does pick up speed after awhile.
Overall, Upgrade is a completely entertaining old-school sci-fi flick. I really loved it, and I think its flaws can easily be forgiven considering how much fun the film ends up being. It is a little bit predictable, but overall the conclusion is very satisfying. I highly recommend Upgrade, and I hope people go see it. While this does borrow a lot from other films, something about it ends up being very original.