While it has familiar sci-fi and action elements, Leigh Whannel’s Upgrade takes those elements and crafts something fresh with truly unique experiences. It’s silly, fun, and has both incredible camera work and an extremely dedicated lead actor to wow audiences.
While he may be in a technologically advanced near-future, Grey Trace (Logan Marshall Green) only has two loves in his world: his cars that he works on by hand and his wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo). However, both are taken away in one fell swoop as Asha is gunned down by unknown assailants and Trace is left a quadriplegic. Being unable to go after them himself, Trace turns to an experimental operation to put an artificial intelligence chip in his neck called STEM (Simon Maiden). Now the two must work together to hunt down the assailants and get some good old-fashioned revenge.
Upgrade gives viewers a range of emotions to feel from start to finish. There’s some hardcore action scenes that will get the audience’s blood pumping as well some truly emotional moments that will make viewers feel something for Trace. Audiences will also be able to recognize some Blumhouse Production staples as Upgrade definitely blends some gruesome bloodshed with legitimately comedic moments. Many who also know Whannel’s career will be able to recognize his use of gore and heightened violence that he played around with when he created Saw back in 2004.
Now Upgrade isn’t the first film to tackle what happens when the human mind and artificial intelligence collide, but it uses fun dialogue to make the film a fresh spin on the idea. What viewers will find interesting about Trace and STEM’s relationship is that neither really have the upper hand on the other. They legitimately have to work together to survive and have relatively similar motivations. They also aren’t perfect and the two definitely lead themselves into some dangerous situations.
But none of the great action sequences, fun dialogue, and stellar character dynamic would be possible without the stand-out performance by Green. His dedication to the role is clear as audiences will see that his more robotic walk, precise fighting, and natural emotion makes every scene feel special. It’s the kind of performance that is truly special and one of a kind.
Green’s performance is only enhanced by Whannel’s wonderful direction as he uses precise camera movements to show off Green’s athletic training for the role to leave audiences wide-eyed. His writing also allows for some predictable and familiar story elements that make audiences feel comfortable before leaving their heads spinning with some superb surprises.
What viewers will love about Upgrade the most is its ability to be a tad absurd and just have fun. It actually feels inventive with its use of odd weaponry and ninja-like fighting styles. All of these elements will make audiences interested in this near-future world. Albeit, it does leaves some lore threads out to hang, but it never feels like it drowns out the story and is something that will only make viewers more interested and want to see more stories in this world.
Upgrade is another winner for Blumhouse. It’s inventive, silly, and has moments that audiences will never forget. Whannel’s direction and Green’s worthwhile performance deserve recognition as the film just plain wouldn’t have been the same without them.