In the midst of all the hype for big movies like “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Deadpool 2,” and “Solo: A Star Wars Story,” it would be easy to overlook the little Blumhouse sci-fi thriller “Upgrade”. That would be a mistake because “Upgrade” is much better than these more highly hyped films.
It centers around a not-too-distant future in which a man (Logan Marshall-Green) and his wife are brutalized (and in her case, killed) by street toughs after an auto-functioning car malfunction lands them in the wrong side of town. When he gets his consciousness back, he is a quadriplegic, and his only hope for revenge and an interesting life is to have a secret STEM (or sentient computer) chip implanted in his brain. All of the sudden, he’s basically got a HAL-9000 type computer that only he can hear interacting with him and controlling his movements. He discovers that he can find his tormenters and get revenge, but at what cost?
This film is basically a mash-up of “Blade Runner,” “The Terminator,” “Hardcore Henry,” and a really interesting nightmare. It adds up to more than the sum of its parts because writer-director Whinnell (creator of the “Saw” and “Insidious” franchises) has an original and (yes!) insidious sensibility that gets under your skin.
The film is action-packed, surprising, and funny because it’s so violent and has so many twists. By the end, we’ve been put through the wringer, and we have to credit the director for making us care so much and get so many laughs out of what could have turned out to be a routine thriller. The best sci-fi action film out right now is definitely “Upgrade,” and no genre fan should miss it under any circumstances!