Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie
Director: Leigh Whannell
Synopsis from Rotten Tomatoes: After his wife is killed during a brutal mugging that also leaves him paralyzed, Grey Trace (Logan Marshall Green, SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING, PROMETHEUS) is approached by a billionaire inventor with an experimental cure that will “upgrade” his body. The cure – an Artificial Intelligence implant called STEM – gives Grey physical abilities beyond anything experienced and the ability to relentlessly claim vengeance against those who murdered his wife and left him for dead.
As technology improves on a daily basis, there will need to be a conversation of how far is too far when it comes to technology’s development and how it will benefit us or harm us moving forward. Upgrade tackles that discussion in a unique way that will leave you questioning yourself and the future of our world after watching this film. While not quite as good as some of its predecessors such as Blade Runner or Ex Machina, Upgrade takes a dark, tech-induced world and manages to successfully add some of the traditional elements found in other Blumhouse films.
The film follows Grey (Marshall-Green), a man left paralyzed from the neck down after a car crash and robbery that puts him in a wheelchair for the rest of his life and has his wife murdered in front of him. Wanting to test out a new, groundbreaking piece of AI, Eron (Gilbertson), one of the leaders of the tech world that Grey built a car for, provides Grey with a computer implant called STEM (voiced by Simon Maiden) that will allow Grey to regain full control of his body, but comes with consequences that Grey did not anticipate. With this new computer inside of him, STEM and Grey work together to find out who killed Grey’s wife. One of the things that makes this film unique compared to other films in the genre is the amount of gore and violence during the action sequences. This is probably due to Blumhouse’s influence on the film that made it look like it could be released alongside one of The Purge movies. Regardless of why the scenes were there, it was a pleasant surprise to see and one that worked very well in the context of the film. You can see the look of horror on Grey’s face when STEM is in control of his body and acts violently and while I do not traditionally like very gory films, this was a unique situation where it was incorporated nicely into the plot. Outside of that, the ending was one that will stick with me for a long time. I did not see the way that the plot was headed, and when I thought the ending was upon on and I thought I had it figured out, the movie redirects and goes in a direction that could very realistically happen at some point in the future. The transition between a more relaxed and comedic futuristic movie like Back to the Future Part II to a movie with a dark and grim reality like Terminator is seamless and shows the level of talent that went into the making of this film. I have said before that Blumhouse is a very unique production company, and after making one of the worst films of 2018 in Truth or Dare, it looks like they have a legitimate hit on their hands. It is a shame that it is not performing as well as many of Blumhouse’s other films at the box office, because this is the type of movie that I believe people need to see as our technology gets more advanced and we lose more of our sense of privacy.
Overall, a unique spin on a standard story combined with a strong performance by Marshall-Green in the lead role make Upgrade one of the surprise hits of the summer movie season. This movie will probably get lost in the flurry of blockbusters we have seen and will continue to see, but I believe the level of quality will make this the type of movie that people find in the next couple of years and wonder why nobody saw it in theatres. Regardless of where or when you see it, Upgrade is not for the faint of heart or faint of mind, but will entice all others who are interested.
Overall Score: 8.5/10