Written and directed by Leigh Whannell, Upgrade follows Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green), a traditional man living in the technologically encompassed near future whose life is left shattered after being attacked by a pack of mysterious men. Now broken and alone, Grey’s only way back to a seemingly normal life is through the implantation of a computer chip called Stem, sending him down a path of rampant revenge.
Blood-drenched and fast-paced, Upgrade pulls you through a layered universe of progress, desolation, and secrets. It neatly crafts science fiction with body horror and drips with the essence of a modern day action movie, while also giving subtle nods to films like 1988’s Brain Damage. All of these elements allow for endless possibilities for the story and sequences, leaving you experiencing multiple feelings at once. From the time this film starts up until its explosive conclusion, Upgrade will keep your attention locked and fully loaded.
Whannell’s work never disappoints. He has always remained a writer whose interests shine brightly on the big screen. His newest film is quite the thrill ride and houses unique plot points to give the audience something new, while also feeling very familiar. The story reflects on traumas, deep-seated emotions, and futuristic technologies that are all at once helpful and damaging.
Blood-drenched and fast-paced, Upgrade pulls you through a layered universe of progress, desolation, and secrets.
The dynamics between Grey’s technology phobia and his reluctant need of it to survive simulates a feeling of helplessness bred by circumstance: he ultimately has no choice. He can pick between an immobile existence or one ruled by technology, which ultimately leads to an even worse outcome. This demonstrates the power of a good screenplay and the ability it has to fully affect the viewer.
Upgrade also showcases powerhouse filmmaking techniques through precisely executed choreographed fight scenes and great given performances by the cast. The action in this film is at a constant ten, with every fight and technologically-controlled movement feeling natural and intense, which is presented nicely through the acting.
Having loved his acting chops in such movies as The Invitation (2015) and Prometheus (2012), Logan Marshall-Green gives life to the character of Grey Trace. The connection he has to share with Stem is portrayed well through his body language and personality, allowing the audience to look into the reality of Grey’s new life. It really feels as though the two entities are becoming one.
With all of these elements connecting together to create one action-packed and futuristic horror ride, Upgrade is definitely a film that should be checked out in theaters. Everything about it is captivating, pulling you right alongside Grey’s journey and traumas as if you were there, and the big screen will intensify this feeling tenfold. It will keep you on the edge of your seat with anticipation, as well as get you to experience heartfelt sympathy towards the presented characters. I have no doubts that this film will make my top five favorites of 2018. Check out Upgrade now in a theater near you.