Wednesday, June 6, 2018

[Review] Upgrade

Upgrade punches in as a brutal revenge action-thriller with a biomechanic twist, and it's a surprisingly down-and-dirty, futuristic stomper.

Set during the near-future in a hi-tech society, we meet an everyman named Grey (Logan Marshall-Green), and the guy is having a really bad today (to put it lightly). First, he gets into a self-driving car wreck, then his wife is murdered! In an act of desperation, Grey decides to undergo an experimental implant procedure called STEM, performed by a weirdo genius (Harrison Gilbertson) who looks about the same age as Harry Styles. As a result, Grey can not only walk again, but he also gains bionic strength. And if that wasn't enough, there's also a supercomputer operating inside his mind. From there, Grey sets out to seek vengeance. Bloody, painful vengeance.

Writer-director Leigh Whannell (who helmed the underrated Insidious 3) injects this provocative film with ultraviolent and pulpy wiring. Jaws are ripped off, people are electrocuted, and wigs are split. Between its high-concept sci-fi scheme and berserk mayhem, Upgrade comes across like a "Black Mirror" episode on steroids. It's also reminiscent of 2014's hybrid flick The Guest with all its sneaky twists and unabashed boldness. The film also exudes a neo-scum visual flair, blending the juxtaposed images of gritty underbelly settings and Daft Punk aesthetics.

Grey isn't invincible, though. There's an ever-present risk of STEM malfunctioning, shutting down, or worse -- turning against him. In addition to that, there's also a detective on his trail (played by Betty Gabriel, Get Out), plotting to foil his revenge spree. These aspects render the stakes intense. But the film also possesses a great sense of humor -- both in general and about itself. This keeps things consistently fun and amusingly visceral. The narrative's cautionary themes pretty much speak for themselves, but Upgrade isn't here to convince anyone of anything. It's here to deliver some butt-kicking and stylish thrills, and it does so with surgical success. It's technically a blast.

( 8/10 )

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