Movie Review – Upgrade


Imagine a movie where Michael Knight lived in the near future, got in a horrible accident and was left quadriplegic.

Then KITT was actually just a microchip that was inserted into his spine letting him walk again, access computer systems and could take complete control of his body making him a ninja, would you want to see that? Well that is about half as awesome as the new film Upgrade.

Set in the near future Grey Trace is a mechanic who restores old cars to be sold to rich clients in an age of self driving cars, drones that can ID people from implants and basically ever other thing you probably imagine the world should look like in the next 10 years. In this world Grey is sort of a Luddite, who actively shirks away from technology even to the point of having his wife pick him up in her self driving car which is where things start happening.

Without spoiling too much of the plot Grey does get into an accident and is rendered quadriplegic as we alluded to. Fortunately for Grey this is a temporary situation as one of his rich clients, the shut-in Elon Musk of this world, approaches Grey and offers him an advanced surgery. Implanting a chip called STEM that would enable him to walk but actually does a lot more than that.

STEM, an advanced AI that can talk to Grey no only enables him to be able to walk but starts to help Grey seek revenge on those involved in his accident except unlike KITT, STEM is a tad more homicidal. STEM, when allowed, can take complete control of Grey’s body allowing for some pretty complex fight scenes with some great fixed camera effects. The overall result gives the impression that using STEM is like playing life but with all the cheats and god mode enabled (fans of Jonathan Nolan’s Person of Interest TV series might be familar), as this Sci-Fi film turns into a Revenge flick.

What you may not realise watching this film is that it was made by Australian writer/director Leigh Whannel of Saw/Insidious fame. Being a Blumhouse production, the producers behind Get Out, Happy Death Day, The Purge Films and more, apart from one use of an Australian accent by the hacker formerly known as Jamie (played by Victorian actress Kai Bradley) you would not know this was filmed in Melbourne.

And just to touch on the horror/gore pedigree of the director and production company as this may be a red flag for some more blood & gore adverse movie fans. To be honest there ARE a few parts which are pretty squeamish which is true to the productions roots but those are fairly few and far between so momentarily hiding behind your popcorn is definitely an option.

So should you go see it? In short, Absolutely. While we might have glazed over a lot as not to spoil the film this is without a question one of the best movies out this year and in the same year as Infinity War just broke 2 billion, that says a lot. While the film is super bloody/squeamish in parts (heads exploding, “things” being cut open) we would call this a Cyberpunk Action/Thriller movie before calling it a horror one.

Upgrade is in Cinemas across Australia from today.

Story and Characters
Visuals and Effects
Enjoyment Factor
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