Film Review

Leigh Whannell’s Upgrade

Leigh Whannell’s Upgrade is slick, bloody, wired Sci Fi action pulp and I loved every second of it, mounted on a high concept premise that’s just this side of outrageous and filled with both enough body shredding extreme violence and atmospheric mood to fuel an entire TV show. A quirky, intelligent mix of horror and futurism, Whannell puts the same brains responsible for the first Saw film into the story of Grey (Logan Marshall Green) a mechanic who is given a nifty new implant following the murder of his wife (Melanie Vallejo) that also leaves him a quadriplegic. Dubbed the Stem and cooked up by a weirdo tech mogul (Harrison Gilbertson), it latches onto his nervous system and makes him a super fast, highly capable killing machine and he sets out to find his attackers and… well.. kill them all in just about as violent ways as anyone could think up. There is actual thought, care and innovation put into this world and it’s construction though, until the very exploitive genre material feels lifted up by pure creation and we get something that thinks, feels and ponders just as much as it stabs and bleeds. An organic mix of Blade Runner style setting is welcome, as both the city they live in and the esoteric score by Jed Palmer are very LA 2049 with a hint of steampunk. Green is a great actor who has slowly been building steam in fits and starts, he had a smaller role in Prometheus and headlined the very underrated Cinemax original Quarry recently, but her he shows he can do leading man work in bigger projects, he’s tough, engaging and sympathetic. This is an extreme vision of a futuristic world that although seems alien to us, is not so different in many ways, and that makes it both scary and compelling. One of the best this year so far.

-Nate Hill

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