Rob Reviews "Upgrade"
I have seen a lot of movies, not only over the course of my writing career, but even longer than that. One of the reasons that I enjoy doing this is because of my passion for film and all things pop culture, and coupled with a thirst for knowledge, I like to get my hands on as much of the medium as possible. The downside to this is that it tends to be difficult to surprise me, so right off the bat, let’s give some kudos to writer/director Leigh Whannell and the awesome “Upgrade”.
Taking place in a bit of a dystopian future, Logan Marshall-Green plays Grey Trace, a guy who doesn’t really dig technology and spends his days restoring and selling classic cars while his wife, Asha (Melanie Vallejo) works in that tech sector. After they drop off his newest creation to a tech guru named Eron (Harrison Gilbertson), their automated car freaks out and drops them in a bad neighborhood, where they are attacked, killing his wife and paralyzing him. Eron visits him in the hospital and offers him a second chance by fusing a computer chip to his spine. The operation is successful, giving Grey the chance to walk again, but he finds out that the chip is truly artificial intelligence, talking to him in his head and agreeing to help him extract his revenge on those that put him in this position.
With echoes of an extended episode of “Black Mirror,” this story takes a number of twists and turns that kept me fully engaged throughout “Upgrade”. Accented by Marshall-Green’s performance, this is part sci-fi, part suspense, and a dash of horror that all blends perfectly. At the screening I attended, Whannell himself was there, taking questions afterwards, and he started with the unconventional opening credit sequence all the way through the ending of his script and any changes that happened along the way. Decisions like making the fighting style feel more robotic due to the fact that technically, that is what Grey is when “STEM” takes over his body or using special cameras that hone in on a hidden iPhone to bring a distinct visual style gives this film a cool, indie vibe while demanding the respect that the big-budget films get.
With the recent success that it’s parent studio, Blumhouse, has had, “Upgrade” is poised to keep their hit streak going. Personally, I would like to see this film stretched to a wider narrative in the form of at least a limited series if not a longer form ongoing series, so Netflix, take notice of this awesome film!