“Upgrade” is a science fiction film directed by Leigh Whannell who is known for his acting in films such as “The Matrix Reloaded”, “The Bye Bye Man” and the 4 “Insidious” films. This film is his second as director following 2015’s “Insidious: Chapter 3”. The film stars Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel and Harrison Gilbertson and comes from Blumhouse Productions, the same studio behind films like “Get Out”, “Happy Death Day”, “Split”, “Sinister” & “The Gift”.
Grey Trace (Marshall-Green) is a mechanic living a futuristic city where pretty much everything is run by computers including homes, vehicles & medical supplies. He and his wife, Asha (Melanie Vallejo) are heading home when their car malfunctions and crashes in a isolated part of the city. The couple is mugged and while Grey tries to fight back he is left paralyzed and then Asha is shot dead. Months go by as we see Grey, now confined to an automatic wheelchair, struggling to adapt to life without Asha and the ability to move on his own. Detective Cortez (Gabriel) lets Grey know that police haven’t made in progress in the case which only drives Grey deeper into his depression. After a failed suicide attempt, Grey is contacted by one of his customers, Eron Keen (Gilbertson), informing him that he has the key to fixing Grey. By implanting a computer chip, STEM, on the cord that connects the spine to his neck and head, Grey will regain his ability to move his arms and legs. After the procedure, Grey soon realizes that STEM is much more than he bargained for when the chip begins to communicate with him from helping him walk to taking his wife’s murder into his own hands.
This was a solid film and really rides on Marshall-Green’s performance which is standout. His range goes up and down throughout and is able to react at a moment’s notice with every given situation. The look of the film is impressive and doesn’t rely on CGI despite the story’s setting. The action sequences are pretty good and shot in a unique way but however is similar to the film, “I, Robot”.
While the film does have its moments, it also is very similar to other films like “I, Robot”, “Death Wish”, “Robocop”, “The Six Million Dollar Man” & “The Terminator”. A lot of the story elements come from these film and while “Upgrade” is a solid movie, I couldn’t help but think of “Robocop” from a plot stand point. Guy has a horrific accident and is then turned into a cyborg but as a science project. The dark tone also reminds me of “I, Robot” in which the world’s reliance on technology is questioned after a number of mysterious malfunctions. As I said before, Marshall-Green’s performance is what carries the movie but his is the only one that is good. Everyone else is either underdeveloped, uninteresting or non important to the overall story. You get some depth to certain characters but the film never goes deeper than that. The film also doesn’t really have a main bad guy. Starts off with one and then tries to throw a twist towards but fails miserably and then tries again only to be left disappointed.
Overall, this was solid film with a great lead performance but falls to into the category of other cliché sci-fi films. It is a bit darker than some of the others but from the film’s main story it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.