Director: Leigh Whannell
Cast: Logan Marshall-Green, Betty Gabriel, Harrison Gilbertson
Release Date: August 28, 2018
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 9.5/10
Disc Rating: 7/10
Upgrade is a thrilling and hyper violent vision of the future from the producers of Get Out and The Purge, and the creator of Saw and Insidious. After his wife is killed during a brutal mugging that also leaves him paralyzed, Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green, Spider-Man: Homecoming, Prometheus) is approached by a billionaire inventor with an experimental cure that will “upgrade” his body. The cure–an Artificial Intelligence implant called STEM–gives Grey physical abilities beyond anything experienced, and the ability to relentlessly claim vengeance against those who murdered his wife and left him for dead.
Set in the not too distant future, ‘Upgrade’ tells the brutal story of Grey (Marshall-Green) who’s happy life is shattered when a brutal attack following a car accident leaves him a widower and a paraplegic. Ready to simply give up and die, Grey’s life suddenly changes when a rich inventor offers him the chance to walk again courtesy of an AI implant called STEM which he reluctantly accepts. But once the new device inside him begins talking to him and the wildly advanced physical traits he’s now capable of are uncovered, his increasing impatience at the police department’s inability to make any progress in the case leads to Grey setting out with the assistance of STEM in order to track down those responsible his wife’s murder and make them pay.
Written and directed by the talented Leigh Whannell (writer of Saw and Insidious among others & writer/director of Insidious: Chapter 3) who does an outstanding job at the helm of ‘Upgrade’ delivering a truly impressive sophomore directorial effort and guiding his own cleverly crafted script along with style and heart. The film also owes its share of credit to the highly capable cast that features a few faces that may be familiar to some, along with many that likely won’t be and includes Logan Marshall-Green (The Initiation), Betty Gabriel (Get Out), Harrison Gilbertson (Need For Speed), Benedict Hardie (Hacksaw Ridge) and more, nearly all providing pretty fantastic performances in each of their respective roles, especially Marshall-Green who rarely disappoints and is nothing short of magnificent here in the lead role of Grey.
‘Upgrade’ is simply phenomenal in every way. A wild, lightning paced thriller laced with humanity, style and no shortage of unrelenting violence that all molds into a truly impressive and insanely enjoyable futuristic ride which grabs hold and doesn’t relent until the perfectly orchestrated conclusion. Constantly exceeding expectations at every turn, Whannell and his team somehow manage to make this relatively low budget film without too many familiar faces or a great deal of futuristic detail look simply spectacular in every conceivable way; often feeling like a big-budget studio blockbuster in its own right courtesy of Whannel’s capable guidance in addition to a talented, well selected cast led by Logan Marshall-Green and a powerful, well-crafted story. Even while Whannell’s directorial debut ‘Insidious: Chapter 3’ wasn’t quite as impressive as the majority of the film’s he merely penned, ‘Upgrade’ proves without any doubt that not only is he equally talented at the helm guiding along his own script, but also has no trouble venturing well out of the more common horror boundaries and in the process accomplishing something truly spectacular. I strongly encourage fellow fans of Whannell’s talented work over the years, along with anyone who enjoys a clever futuristic action flick that that isn’t afraid to lose itself in the best possible way to try and make a definite point of checking this one out whenever possible. It’s a tense, action-packed and surprisingly moving piece of futuristic insanity that you won’t want to miss out on.
Overall, ‘Upgrade’ is a thoroughly exciting, clever and brutal technological thriller with a futuristic setting, yet always embracing a tone and story that’s incredibly human in its own right. It’s a truly magnificent piece of filmmaking that takes you on a powerful and intense ride that also looks gorgeous every step of the way. I can’t recommend ‘Upgrade’ strongly enough, it’s a marvelous film that’s also far more than initially meets the eye and definitely one of my favorite movies of the year so far. Any fans of Leigh Whannell’s talented work behind the camera as well as anyone that’s even slightly intrigued by the movie already will probably want to try and give ‘Upgrade’ a chance. Odds are that it’ll have no trouble whatsoever proving well worth the cost of a rental and an evening of your time at the absolute least.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Upgrade’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.39:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks rather wonderful as a whole and provides a sharp, clean and at times quite colorful presentation throughout, with no notable faults to be uncovered along the way. It holds up impressively even during the many darkly lit and/or fast moving sequences, never allowing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible at any point. Overall, this is a fantastic high definition video presentation from Universal that delivers from start to finish and shouldn’t disappoint.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This multichannel soundtrack delivers a clean, crisp and pretty hard hitting presentation throughout. It consistently takes advantage of all five available channels in order to send vehicles, bullets and plenty more regularly zipping throughout the various channels, while always making sure that any dialogue or other audio elements that might be occurring simultaneously remain clear and fully audible. Overall, this is a solid 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that sounds great and perfectly complements the on screen fun and insanity.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Upgrade’ includes no bonus content whatsoever.