Thursday, June 14, 2018

Movie Review: "Upgrade" (2018)

Director: Leigh Whannell
Year: 2018
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

When a man named Grey and his wife Asha are assaulted by a group of men while driving home, the attack leaves him paralyzed and his wife dead. Grey then gets the opportunity to be the test subject for a new technology called STEM that will allow him to walk again. This new tech also gives him some unforeseen powers, which he uses to get revenge on those who murdered his wife.
"What's a guy like me supposed to do when the widgets start taking over the world?" (Image Source)
If you take a "Death Wish"-style revenge thriller, add a little "Ex Machina"-style sci-fi thriller, and a sprinkling of superhero-style action with just a dash of horror, you get writer/director Leigh Whannell's latest film "Upgrade." If the name Leigh Whannell sounds familiar, it's because he is one of the writers behind the "Saw" and "Insidious" franchises. The story is about a man named Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green), an analog man living in a digital world. He rebuilds classic collectible muscle cars for wealthy collectors. After dropping off his latest rebuild to its new owner, a young tech genius named Eron (Harrison Gilbertson), Grey and his wife Asha get in a car accident when their self-driving car malfunctions. At the scene of the crash, the pair is assaulted by a group of masked men and are shot, leaving Grey paralyzed and Asha dead. Eron offers Grey an opportunity to walk again if he agrees to be a guinea pig and test his new microchip. The new chip called STEM also comes with some unforeseen enhancements, which Grey uses to find his wife's killers and get revenge.
"You thought I was an invalid, but as it turns out, I'm a fucking ninja." (Image Source)
We knew nothing about "Upgrade" going into it. We hadn't seen any marketing material for it at all. It's a damn shame this movie wasn't marketed more because it's an entertaining, impressive and fun movie. This revenge thriller with a sci-fi twist offers up some intricate and cool visuals and an intriguing story that really gripped us and pulled us into the narrative. Whannell also creates a great atmosphere that tells a visual story about the world Grey lives in. This is a relatively low budget movie, but everyone involved in making this project manages to creates something really terrific despite that. The special effects are actually outstanding considering its budgetary restrictions. The plot does follow a simple revenge storyline, but the addition of futuristic gadgets, a couple of really intense action sequences and a horror-movie-level of blood and guts, it all helps add a little something to this tale.
"I'm not accusing you of doing something you're incapable of doing." (Image Source)
We were so pleasantly surprised with "Upgrade." The action scenes are super fun and really exciting. The acting is excellent from everyone involved. We can't wait to see what Logan Marshall-Green does next because he is a total badass here. Some of the elements of the narrative may be a little predictable, but the final outcome left us very satisfied. More movies like this please, Leigh Whannell! If "Upgrade" is playing near you, we implore you to go see it, but try to go into it knowing nothing!

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8.5/10
IMDB's Rating: ~7.8/10
RT Rating: 87%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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