Leigh Whannel has helped create some of the biggest franchises in horror including the Saw franchise and Insidious, but has also had a pretty impressive acting credits as well. Now he is stepping behind the camera once again for his latest film Upgrade starring Logan Marshall-Green, Rosco Campbell, and Richard Cawthorne, but does it bring the violent action it promises or will it need its own upgrade?
Upgrade follows Grey Trace who is approached by a billionaire inventor with an experimental cure which will "upgrade" his body after his wife is killed during a brutal mugging which also leaves him paralyzed. That upgrade consists of an artificial intelligence implant known as STEM, which will give Grey physical abilities far beyond anything he's experienced. Along with STEM, Grey sets out to claim vengeance against those who murdered his wife and left him for dead. I am already a big fan of everything Whannell has done so I was pretty excited to see what else was going to be unleashed from his mind, but was not expecting to be hit so hard. This movie is insanely awesome from start to finish. Whannell has created a gritty sci-fi noir action flick that offers up everything you could want in the genre and so much more.
The story is pretty simple, but just complicated enough to get you fully invested. There are some predictable elements, or so you think, that I thought might hurt the end result, but instead it made it all the better. After the slow build to get to the meat of it all you are fully invested and ready for the [awesomeness] that is about to be unleashed on your brain. When STEM takes over to dole out bloody vengeance it is like nothing you have ever seen. Everything about the way these fights are executed are wrong in relation to how martial arts and movement work, which is exactly why it works. There was clearly an insane amount of detail paid to create something unique and it paid off in spades.
The cast are all great but it is Logan Marshall-Green that has to not only carry the load, but offer up the most unique performance. He does an awesome job in the role bringing the pain and suffering along with rage and confusion needed to make this character work. You fell his evolution throughout his journey and root for every violent decision he makes or that are made for him. I loved that Whannell has created the kind of futuristic film that uses more subtle and simple elements to let you know as opposed to trying to recreate an entire new world. The old school vibe to the whole thing will leave the hardcore action fans smiling as the blood soaked violence engulfs the screen. For those hoping for gore you will not be disappointed as the blood and body parts fly pretty freely.
I figured I would enjoy this film, but it delivered so much more than I expected in the best way possible. This is only Whannell’s second outing as a feature director and he has proven that he belongs right where he is. His attention to detail and unique vision is something that I hope to see more often in a variety of genre projects. No matter what his future holds I am so glad he brought his gritty look at the future to the screen now with Upgrade that is easily one of my favorite films so far this year.
Get your upgrade and prepare to bring the pain with Upgrade available now on Digital and then on Blu-ray and DVD on August 28th from Universal Home Entertainment.
Review by Bobby Blakey - Bobby reviews way more movies on his own website than the genre-specific ones I post here. Check out Bobby's awesome website and his live show he co-hosts with his wife, Drusilla, at Hollywood Matrimony.