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Upgrade: A Fantastic Techno-Thriller That You Should See With an Audience

June 3, 2018

Upgrade is a bloody breath of fresh air that features top-notch production value, inspired violence and a solid lead performance from Logan Marshall-Green. It is a tiny-budgeted  ($3-5 million) exploitation movie that showcases the DIY talents of director/writer Leigh Whannell.  Whannell is the man responsible for the  Saw, Insidious, Cooties and Dead Silence screenplays and you can tell he has been fine-tuning his craft to get to Upgrade. What I appreciate most about Whannell is how he can maximize his tiny budgets and create new worlds that feel heavily borrowed and totally unique at the same time. I can’t think of the last time I wanted a movie to succeed so badly because if Upgrade pulls a profit it could open the doors for other tiny-budgeted exploitation movies to be made and released in theaters.

Upgrade tells the story of something terrible happening to a technologically averse man living in the near future. Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) is an analog man who fixes old cars, listens to vinyl and doesn’t know how to operate the driverless car that his wife drives. Things go terribly wrong after he and his wife drop off a muscle car to a tech billionaire’s insanely upgraded home when their driverless car is hacked and eventually flips after hitting a ramp. Grey’s wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo) is killed and he is left as a quadriplegic who becomes dependent on the technology around him. Things get really interesting when the tech billionaire Eron (Harrison Gilbertson)  shows up and says he can cure Grey’s quadriplegia by installing an enhanced microchip called STEM into his body. The surgery is a success but Grey soon finds out that STEM is smarter than it seems when it starts talking to him and has the capability of taking over his body.  Problems arise when the fully-mobile Grey starts finding and killing (via crazy methods) the men who killed his wife. The killings put him on the radar of a detective named Cortez (Betty Gabriel) and soon he is being hunted by an uber enhanced soldier who can kill people by simply breathing. It all leads to a gut-punch of a conclusion that builds a bigger world and opens up some neat sequel possibilities.

Some of the most impressive aspects of Upgrade are the creative fight scenes that showcase some very interesting choreography that plays like The Matrix met The Raid and became more bloody. Logan Marshall-Green does a fantastic job of pulling off the physicality of the brawls and acting like he isn’t doing any of the fighting because STEM has control. You will find yourself laughing as he mutilates people’s bodies with every weapon you could imagine. I’ve never seen fights like this before and that is a credit to Whannell who always finds ways to create something original with familiar elements. Take a look at the trailer and you will see what I mean.


If you are looking to watch a beautifully inventive movie it doesn’t get any better than Upgrade. I can’t wait to see what Leigh Whannell does next and I hope Logan Marshall-Green is able to use Upgrade to catapult himself into some more interesting films.



One Comment leave one →
  1. John Leavengood permalink
    June 4, 2018 7:26 am

    I loved the tech-marionetted choreography. Fantastic. Not sure how they’d go about it, but I’m open to a sequel… Upgrade v.2

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