I feel like it’s rare that I got to see an original film this time of year.
Usually, summer is filled with blockbusters, typically based on a pre-existing properties. So, it’s a real treat whenever we get a movie like this. I can honestly say that it’s one of the best movies I’ve seen this year. On the surface, Upgrade looks like the typical revenge thriller, with some sci-fi elements. However, the film is a fun and interesting ride that separates itself from other movies in the genre. Leigh Whannell, writer of the original Saw, both writes and directs. This is only his second feature as a director, and he absolutely delivers. He provides each scene with excellent visuals and really pulls you into the movie, utilizing stylized neon elements to accentuate the film’s future setting. There are also times where the color is very bleak, especially towards the end of the first act. On top of that, Whannell writes one the best screenplays of this genre. There are even some comedic moments that really help break the tension.
Some Spoilers ahead.
Upgrade revolves around Grey Trace, played by Logan Marshall-Green. Paralyzed from the neck down after the murder of his wife, he is offered the technology to walk again. Of course, he accepts and the movie truly begins.
Due to his condition, Grey has to rely on the chip for everything that he’s doing. If it gets shut down, he’ll be back in a wheelchair. The chip adds a unique aspect to the plot. Marshall-Green does an excellent job, and has no problem carrying the movie. You really feel his struggle in every scene, and are rooting for him every step of the way. Simon Maiden provides the voice of Stem, the A.I. inside of the chip. Maiden’s line delivery may be monotone most of the time, but he still provides Stem with a personality. Benedict Hardie provides another great performance as the antagonist Fisk. He has a sinister air about him in every scene. Hardie gives Fisk a commanding presence, even when he’s quiet in the background. There’s never a moment where he comes off cheesy either, and I think Fisk is one of the best on screen villains this year so far.
I got a lot more out of this movie than I expected, even though I had figured that it would be an enjoyable ride, judging by the trailers. Upgrade well exceeded my expectations and gave me one of the best viewing experiences I’ve had this year. I can’t recommend it enough.
Upgrade is currently playing in theaters everywhere.