Title – Upgrade (2018)
Director – Leigh Whannell (Insidious: Chapter 3)
Cast – Logan Marshall-Green, Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie, Betty Gabriel, Melanie Vallejo
Plot – Set in the near future, after an attack leaves him a quadriplegic and his wife Asha (Vallejo) dead, Grey (Marshall-Green) accepts an offer from reclusive computer whiz Eron Keen to implant him with a new technology known as Stem that will allow him to walk again and seek vengeance on those that ruined his life.
“You now have full control”
Review by Eddie on 11/02/2019
It’s not like Australian export Leigh Whannell had much left to prove in the filmmaking department after helping create two of the most successful horror franchises of the modern era in the forms of the Saw and Insidious franchises but with low-budget sci-fi actioner Upgrade, Whannell has once more showcased his growing skills as a filmmaker and created an example of what can be created with a low-end budget but lots of ideas and creativity.
After debuting as a director with 2015’s Insidious: Chapter 3, after year’s of supporting turns as an actor and writer/producer with filmmaking buddy and all-round legend James Wan, Whannell has shown considerable growth as a presence behind the camera and as a writer with Upgrade, a simplistic and recognisable tale that may walk familiar beats to what we’ve seen before but with a fresh bout of imagination.
Produced and financed by horror master Jason Blum of Blumhouse fame, Upgrade see’s Whannell migrate out of the horror landscape with this more 80’s infused offering, that offers up plenty of brutal and bleak action ticks whilst also delivering an in many ways believable sci-fi parable that moulds in aspects of 2001’s computer menace Hal, Ropocop’s human/robot hybrid and a futuristic world (shot in Australia) that feels cut from the same cloth as Dark City.
Upgrade’s the type of film that has almost too many ideas and components to delve into over its fairly quick-paced 90 minutes, meaning that not all of Whannell’s offerings and characters feel completely lived in (most obvious Benedict Hardie’s chief baddie Fisk and his gang of out of the ordinary “hand” guns for hire and Harrison Gilbertson’s computer genius Eron Keen) but when we are following Logan Marshall Green’s mechanic, turned quadriplegic, turned one man revenge army Grey, on his quest to unlock the identity of those responsible for the death of his wife and the cause of his wheelchair bound condition, Upgrade becomes the type of cult film in waiting that will allow Whannell’s film a long-standing reputation moving forward.
With a gritty and realistic vibe that fits in perfect with its more b-grade concept, Whannell has a blast bringing Grey’s tale to life as he turns from a depressed shell of a man into a computer operated wrecking ball that gels brilliantly with Green’s deadpan delivery (in both spirit and body) of a man not in control of his new mind/body and Whannell’s vibrant and energetic action sequences that are an absolute blast to sit through.
Final Say –
A fun, fast and most importantly likeable sci-fi action hybrid, Upgrade is a fantastically realised low-budget offering that puts most similar high-end counterparts to shame.
Another impressive feat of filmmaking from Whannell, Upgrade may at times play it a little too close to the rulebook and walk familiar plot lines but when it kicks into gear, Upgrade provides a highly entertaining ride, making it a film that is undoubtedly heading for cult status in the very near future.
4 arm guns out of 5