Big Brother is watching in Upgrade, a futuristic horror-thriller from Leigh Whannell (Insidious: Chapter 3).
Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) barely makes a living fixing old cars. His attractive wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo) works in IT. The pair have a good relationship. All that changes though after Grey delivers a vehicle to Eron (Harrison Gilbertson). Eron is a highly credentialed but off-the-grid tech guru, and he’s invented a chip called STEM. This chip is more powerful than anything before it; so powerful it may change the world.
On the way home, Asha’s self-drive car malfunctions and won’t respond. When muggers set on them, the consequences are dire. Asha dies and Grey is left a paraplegic. That’s when Eron’s chip comes into play.
Although reticent at first, Grey finally agrees to have it implanted into his body. It gives him back the ability to walk – and much more. Suddenly he’s able to function at a very high level. He even has a permanent voice (Simon Maiden) in his head that only he can hear. But he can also can call on at any time to lend a helping hand. Together, Grey and STEM embark on a mission to avenge his wife’s death.
Many films (I Robot, for example) have championed superior artificial intelligence. And as cinematic technology has evolved, the stakes are constantly upped.
I was highly involved from the outset. I really appreciated the representation of the future – the production design was first rate – and the development of the story arc. Revenge is always a great driver, but sometimes it’s handled better than on other occasions. Such is the case in this one.
It’s not difficult to sympathise with Grey’s predicament thanks to a considered performance from Logan Marshall-Green (Spider-Man Homecoming). Many will pick the real villain of the piece relatively early, but even if you do, there are more surprises in store.
Whannell has crafted an engaging and absorbing thriller with bite.