“Upgrade” stars Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, Harrison Gilbertson, and Benedict Hardie. Released on June 1, 2018, the film is about a man who uses a computer chip to avenge his wife’s murder.
The film is directed by Leigh Whannell, who is known for writing films such as “Saw”, “Dead Silence”, and “Insidious”. We won’t be getting another big-budget action blockbuster for a while, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any interesting movies for me to talk about this weekend. One of the latest films I’ll be looking at today sees Leigh Whannell back in the director’s chair after making his directorial debut with “Insidious: Chapter 3” three years ago. Rather than tackling another supernatural horror film, Whannell, along with Blumhouse producer Jason Blum, is going to get his hands all bloody by helming a sci-fi feature that combines two different genres together: action and body horror. The film made its debut at the South by Southwest festival back in March, and not only did it receive some healthy reviews, but it earned the director an Audience Award at the SXSW Film Awards a couple days after its premiere. What’s even more surprising is that it’s still getting some good reviews as of this writing. Now that it has made its way to the rest of the world, it’s time to see if this low-budget action horror flick is as fun and violent as people suggested.
The story is set in the near future, where an ordinary man’s life gets turned upside down when a mugging left him paralyzed. To make matters worse, it also lead to the death of his beloved wife. Geez, talk about getting kicked in the nuts while you’re down. He is later introduced to an experimental computer chip that will not only cure his paralysis, but can also enhance his human abilities. The chip serves as his only advantage as he attempts to take down the people responsible for killing his wife. Sometimes, a low-budget action film tends to be either average or mediocre based on its execution. In fact, the poster for “Upgrade” may make some people think that it’s going to be another average action film. Judging from my experience, this film is definitely far from average. Like “Deadpool 2”, “Upgrade” knows that it can provide some good storytelling while also delivering some good old fashioned R-rated fun. The story did have a couple of moments that add nothing new to the “action-revenge” formula, but it blends well together with the film’s body horror elements and its themes about technology being both a gift and a curse. Most of the performances from the cast were pretty good, especially Logan Marshall-Green as Grey Trace, who has his share of moments that made me feel bad for him and moments that were actually pretty funny. The action sequences were surprisingly well-handled due to its stylish camera work and the choreography. Not only were they fun to watch, but they never hold back on the grisly violence. I was very impressed to see that Leigh Whannell can handle action scenes as effectively as he handled the horror scenes. The first act of the film was nicely directed by Whannell as it portrays how a person’s life is affected after losing both a loved one and the ability to move their entire body. It does take a while for the film to get to the good stuff, and once it does, it’s just as rewarding as you would’ve expected from an R-rated action film. More importantly, it never lost focus on its storytelling in the midst of its violent mayhem.
Overall, “Upgrade” is a low-budget action film done right. Thanks to its main lead, solid direction, and its impressive blend of entertainment and storytelling, this film shows that Leigh Whannell has a talent in showcasing both action and horror. It might not impress everyone due to its grisly nature, but for those who are into this type of genre, it’s worth checking out.