Upgrade is the new science fiction movie written and directed by Leigh Whannell. He is mainly known as a screenwriter and actor (Saw I – III, Insidious franchise, Dead Silence). Whannell is also a frequent collaborator of James Wan. His directorial debut was Insidious Chapter III, a movie that I have absolutely no interest of seeing. Upgrade is his second movie as a director and it got my attention after reading some good reviews, so let’s find out if this movie is worth your time.
The plot of the movie goes like this: In an unspecified future a technology helps people with almost everything, Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) is one of those that doesn’t really like technological progress and rather do everything by himself. But after one dreadful night his wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo) ends up dead and he crippled, but a prototypical technology called STEM can help him walk again. However, side effect of this is that STEM (voiced by Simon Maiden) speaks to him and offers him help with tracking down the people who killed his wife.
With a premise like this, you might be thinking that this is a simple revenge sci-fi action thriller and I thought that too, but after watching this movie I would say that the closest movie similar to Upgrade is Blade Runner and its sequel. Revenge and action are important aspects of this movie, but the most important aspect is the question how much Grey is still a human and how much STEM is controlling him.
Now let’s get to what Upgrade does well, because there is a lot of it. Acting for the most parts is very good. Logan Marshall-Green, who I only know from that awful movie Prometheus, does an exceptional job whenever he is a man on a wheelchair or an avenging superhuman. His performance is believable every time. As for other actors they all act respectfully and quite well. Action scenes are really great, minimal usage of shaky camera and when it is necessary great usage of blood and gore. CGI in most parts is really good, on a smaller budget it’s very impressive. There are also quite clever and quite fun ideas, like people having guns in their arms.
With all what Upgrade does well, there are unfortunately some things that I really didn’t like that much. I mentioned that the acting is pretty strong in this movie, with one exception of Harrison Gilbertson, while his performance wasn’t awful, in comparison to the rest of the cast isn’t that good. Also his character didn’t make much, especially in the ending of the movie. The world of Upgrade isn’t very creative, for example cars are basically the same as in I, robot (2004).
Finally, I would like to write about the ending of the movie and this is something I have mixed feelings about. On the one hand I like how this movie ended and in which tone it ended. On the other hand, it doesn’t make sense, especially if you think about this movie through. You may be thinking that I didn’t like this movie – on the contrary I did. I think that this was a good science fiction movie and its strengths outweighs its flaws. Upgrade is a movie that deserves your time and money. And in my opinion Leigh Whannell proven himself to be a good director and I’ll keep my eye on his next projects (unless it’s another Insidious movie).
Until then keep watching!