There are some good ideas in “Upgrade,” which make the movie interesting. I consider this a B-movie with some silly effects, but a lot of fun and nice acting going on. Writer/director Leigh Whannell (“Saw,” “Insidious”) and producer Jason Blum both do a solid job bringing their own visions to life.
The movie stars Logan Marshall-Green (“Prometheus,” “Spider-Man: Homecoming”) as Grey, who loves his vintage car and wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo) more than his technology-advanced future. It offers talking houses and cars which drive themselves, and there are drones that can barely catch criminals because of their firewalls. And get this, the main criminals in this movie, led by Fisk (Benedict Hardie), have guns implanted in their arms.
That becomes a problem for Grey when those criminals make him a quadriplegic and murder his wife. Then a young inventor named Eron (Harrison Gilbertson) installs a device called “Stem,” which will give him his ability to walk again. But there’s a catch: he has to keep it a secret. If he makes any stupid mistake, he can automatically shut it down.
The Stem can talk (voiced provided by Simon Maiden), help him catch the criminals, and turn him into a fighting machine. And the two people that start to suspect his abilities are both Eron and a hard nosed detective (Betty Gabriel from “Get Out”).
At times, it can be a bit corny with how some of the special effects take place. For example, when Grey drags himself on the floor, it looks like the camera is tilting from side to side. There are a few violent images, involving knives, and at times, it drags on a bit, so I can’t call “Upgrade” a Sci-Fi masterpiece.
I can, however, admit that while I found some typical things, I actually ate up its fun and imagination. Marshall-Green gives a fine performance as a man struggling to get on with his life and then finding himself in a great state of surprise and risks. I’ve never heard of Maiden, but he does some nice voice acting, in the vein of Tom Kenny, as Stem. And their dialogue is both easy and fun, while in other cases, it goes deeper than you expect.
The chases and fights are cool, and they don’t consume the movie up. They actually keep you watching. And even its final act reminds you of “Ex Machina.” This movie is more about artificial intelligence, and you are poised to see how Whannell represents that.
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