A surgically enhanced dude out for revenge. I’d say I was excited if movies like this weren’t made all the time.
The story looks like it’s about a man whose wife, or girlfriend was murdered and nearly kills him too, leaving him a quadriplegic, but is then offered a chance to get cybernetically enhanced to not only walk again, but to exact revenge on those that did him wrong.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Logan Marshall-Green (SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING  and SNOWDEN ) and voice work by Simon Maiden (THE DRESSMAKER ). In support, we have Betty Gabriel (GET OUT , THE PURGE: ELECTION YEAR , and the upcoming UNFRIENDED: DARK WEB ), Harrison Gilbertson (NEED FOR SPEED ), Benedict Hardie (HACKSAW RIDGE , THE WATER DIVINER , and upcoming films NEKROMANCER  and JUDY AND PUNCH ), and Melanie Vallejo (POWER RANGERS MYSTIC FORCE ).
Now for the crew. Writing and directing, we have Leigh Whannell, known for INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 (2015). Composing the score is Jed Palmer, known for stuff I’ve never heard of. The cinematographer is Stefan Duscio, known for stuff I’ve never heard of, and the upcoming SWEETHEART (2018). Finally, the editor is Andy Canny, known for stuff I’ve never heard of.
Overall, this movie does look deceptively light. Like, it’ll have a sense of humor and a unique one at that. Mixed that in with some cool action and dudes guns out of their hands, it doesn’t look too bad. Like it can be a lot of fun. So maybe I’m a little more excited for this than I think I am.
This is my honest opinion of: UPGRADE
Set in the near future where getting cybernetic implants to enhance oneself is the norm. Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) is one of the few individuals who prides himself in his all-organic self, as well as older technology, like manual, non-networked cars. He lives a simple life with his wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo), who works for computer company. However, one fateful night, the two of them get into a car crash and are both attacked by a group contract killers. While Asha is murdered, Grey survives as a quadriplegic. Despite his suicidal tendencies, he’s approached by a former client of his, the young, super smart, and owner of the greatest computer company in the world, named Eron Keen (Harrison Gilbertson) to get a computer chip inserted into his spine that enable him to walk again. He reluctantly accepts and learns that this chip has a voice, called Stem (voiced by Simon Maiden), and also seems to have a mind of its own, but no control over his body. In time, they go on the hunt for the men who murdered his wife.
Fuck yeah. This was awesome. Delicious violence. Blood and chunks everywhere, it’s about as awesome as a movie can get.
This movie wastes no time in showing you just how different it’s going to be and that’s it’s use with it’s very titles. Most of them are narrated by a voice over. Not even kidding, a disembodied voice says the studios that made this film, as well as the title of the movie. Strangely enough, I think this brilliantly serves the story better than it would initially let on, as this movie does seem to be about the perils of relying on technology too much to the point of letting it consume your life and basically doing things for you. Start us off without letting us read the names of the studios that made this movie, but rather simply reading them out loud to us. What an insult, but it’s in service to the story.
So the movie does a pretty standard job of introducing the characters. Grey is a hands-on kind of dude, tolerating technology, but only dealing with it when necessary, and scoffs at anything new and “innovative.” He builds or fixes older cars, or old for this time period, and sells them to anyone interested. Asha is a loving wife, embraces technology to a reasonable degree, and is established to be a real bread-winner of the two, as she works for a computer company. Both actors are very good in their respective roles, especially when the chaos starts. Right after an extremely well-done car wreck, I love how slow and agonizing their scene is as Asha is killed and Grey loses consciousness. Even afterward, Marshall-Green doesn’t lose momentum. There’s a bit where he’s at home with his mom in his wheelchair and it starts with a long take of just Grey staring, and slowly he breaks down crying over what he’s lost. It’s a brilliant moment.
But pish-posh, we’re here to talk about the action and let me tell you, this movie has a wicked sense of humor and it works amazingly. Grey’s posture changes when he allows Stem to control his body, as his body is beating a man to a bloody pulp, his face scrunches at the pain he’s causing, and when he’s done, looking at the bloody remains of a victim, Stem says in the most nonchalant way, “You now have full control,” I couldn’t help but laugh my ass off, even though the gory mess is horrible. Also, the cinematography is weird, but I kind of like it. You know that technique where the camera hangs on an image and keeps it centered and upright, even if the object in focus isn’t? I have no idea what that’s called, but I always enjoyed it when done right. See the trailer, you’ll see what I’m talking about.
The action is awesome. You have gunfights with no guns, unless you count their hands as guns, loading shells into their arms, pedo-mustached creeps killing people with with nano-bots from sneezing, there’s no shortage of incredible thrills to keep our sick thirst for violence sated. And that’s the best way to describe this flick. It’s sick, it’s violent, and it’s fuckin’ awesome. The closest thing to a problem is that the movie hints at separate factions, a group that heavily modifies their bodies to compensate for their natural weaknesses and another that doesn’t want that. This is the only thing that isn’t explained very well, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not that big of deal and I wager this movie will be popular enough to warrant a sequel to further explore this concept. So as a recommendation, drop what you’re doing and see this. You won’t regret it.
My honest rating for UPGRADE: a strong 4/5
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