3 (out of 4)
After beginning like an 80s B-movie with 21st century gloss, Upgrade, as its title implies, becomes increasingly invigorating and remarkable as it progresses. Warping body horror, action thriller and dystopian sci-fi elements into its own low-budget cocktail, Upgrade is quaint, sophisticated conception. It's worthy of standing toe-to-toe with many tentpole summer blockbusters.
Logan Marshall-Green shows off extraordinary range as everyman Grey, whose a loving wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo) is killed in the same assault that leaves him a quadriplegic. The future generation's hipster Tesla (Harrison Gilbertson as Eron Keen) offers Grey an exclusive chance to return to normalcy with STEM, a breakthrough all-enhancing AI counterpart chip. As a refined revision of templates laid down in Robocop and several similar cyborg and AI premises, Upgrade adroitly imagines a symbiosis of 2001's Hal 9000 and Dave, for example, where the precision of AI polishes and perfects everything connected to your nervous system. Autonomy and morality come into question in the film’s most thought-provoking moments and the brutal and elegantly shot action sequences are just as satisfying as bloody good ass-kicking.
Directed and written by Leigh Whannell (the man responsible for penning the Saw and Insidious franchises), Upgrade is reminiscent of multiple films of its kind yet feels entirely authentic once it gets all its pieces in place and gears in motion. The fact that the ending leaves the tantalizing possibility of an equally interesting sequel is just the cherry on top of a movie that is at least a few degrees more adept than it initially appears. Upgrade is a welcome and unexpected diamond in the rough.
To keep it brief...
Soon to Come:
First Man and
at the El Royale