Saturday, June 2, 2018

Upgrade - Review

Blumhouse is an interesting production company. While undoubtedly profitable due to the sheer number of low-budget horror films they release every year, they still manage to slip in a handful of different films in that are quite exceptional. Going from an award powerhouse last year in Get Out to the miserable Truth or Dare this year is certainly a big turn. An awards run is definitely not on the table for Upgrade, but finds that sweet spot in between the two extremes.

A brutal mugging leaves Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) paralyzed in the hospital and his beloved wife dead. A billionaire inventor soon offers Trace a cure -- an artificial intelligence implant called STEM that will enhance his body. Now able to walk, Grey finds that he also has superhuman strength and agility -- skills he uses to seek revenge against the thugs who destroyed his life.

In many ways, Upgrade feels like a Black Mirror episode that’s been translated and stretched into a feature length theatrical release, featuring the same finding terror in technology vibe that the show is known for. The film handles itself like a B-movie, full of violence and gore, yet with a good grasp on where is wants to go. The plot is pretty standard revenge fare, placed within an advanced world and an underlying world of chaos and trouble.

The film is 100% a showcase for Logan Marshall-Green. He really leads this film all on his own, with an excellent sense of comedic timing and interactions with his disembodied partner in crime Stem. Those interactions provide a lot of the films best moments outside of the action, providing context and essentially an easy to way to illustrate a thought process. Outside of Logan Marshall-Green, the only other performance worth mentioning is Betty Gabriel. Seeing her in anything post-Get Out is fantastic, even if she doesn’t have much to do as Detective Cortez, she still makes the best of it.

Despite the positives already covered, the action is the biggest highlight by far. It is shot in a such a way that is not only exciting and unique, but also fits the idea of the film too. Everything is precise, illustrating the deliberate actions of an AI that is analyzing and perfecting attacks as it goes, and yet at the same time feels very visceral and real.

Overall, Upgrade is ripped straight from the days of over the top B-movie fun and placed into a technological age. Lead by a terrific performance from Logan Marshall-Green, Upgrade manages to deliver a gory and violent film while maintaining a balance of horror and humor amidst it all. It certainly helps that the action is exhilarating and inventive from start to finish. 

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