'Upgrade' - Joe's Take
Updated: Oct 8, 2020
2018 I 15+ I 100 Mins I Dir: Leigh Whannell
Set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when the world of Grey, a self-labeled technophobe, is turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant.
Written and Directed by Leigh Whannell, most known for his writing credits on the Saw and Insidious franchises, this sci-fi action revenge tale certainly offers something fresh to both genres whilst still showcasing its directors horror roots.
Upgrade is certainly at its best in its action sequences. An early scene in which Grey allows for his body to be taken over by A.I in a desperate attempt to defend himself is a standout and sets the bar high for the rest of the film.
Logan Marshall-Green's performance is easy to overlook in this larger than life world but his ability to juggle facial human emotion and a robot like physicality as a man who has no control of his body is bizarre, brilliant and at times even funny.
Assisting this brilliant conflicted performance is the much talked about camera work that resists and responds to Grey as he fights. The camera often centralises and locks itself on Grey movements allowing the world around him to move whilst keeping him as the focus which works incredibly well to showcase the heightened reaction time of his computer enhancement which is charged further along by some equally impressive sound design that really gives the film an electronic pulse.
The supporting characters were the main issue for me here. I felt that with exception to the protagonist, most of the characters weren't emotionally engaging and were there to serve the plot. This is sadly not an uncommon mistake for sci-fi films and Upgrade (despite how fun it is) sadly allows its characters to become heavily overshadowed by its world and style.
Besides some weaker side characters and an ending that i'm still coming to terms with my feelings on, Upgrade is a refreshing take on the sci-fi action film that has more than enough style to keep you glued to the screen throughout.
STARRING: Logan Marshall-Green, Melanie Vallejo, Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie, Richard Cawthorne
BEST QUOTE: "You now have full control again, Grey"
FUN FACT: During the fight scenes, the camera often tracks Grey so that he remains in the middle of frame. This was achieved by hiding a phone somewhere on Logan Marshall-Green, which the cameras could then pair to and follow with as much accuracy as possible.
IF YOU LIKED: The Matrix, Robocop, Looper, Blade Runner