Thanks to Madman Films, we got to see Lee Whannell’s, Upgrade before it’s official release. This is our review of the movie, but as usual, no matter what we say, we still recommend you to go and see it at your local cinema because there is no better critic than yourself!
The film industry has always had a love affair with the future and what it will be like both technologically and for the citizens of the world. The 80’s, in particular, were obsessed with trying to imagine what was in store for the human race, with the likes of Blade Runner, Robocop and, even, Back to the Future (possibly the one that most accurately predicted elements of the future), having all explored the idea of the ‘not-too-distant’ future.
Upgrade unashamedly, and fantastically, follows in the guise of these films. Set only a few years from now, the film follows hero Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green), an old-school mechanic that has a deep appreciation for the less advanced things in life – much like Will Smith’s character in I, Robot.
After delivering a fully refurbished car to wealthy tech giant, Eron Keen (Harrison Gilbertson), Trace and his wife are set upon by futuristic villains with guns implanted in their palms. A robbery gone bad – Trace ends up a quadriplegic while his wife is murdered.
When Keen offers him the chance to reclaim his life and avenge his wife, by implanting a cutting-edge chip named ‘STEM’ that makes him almost ‘super human’, Trace rolls at the chance.
But much like when Michael Knight found out K.I.T.T was more than just a car, Trace soon finds that his new chip has a voice…and mind of its own – one that cannot be switched off.
As STEM begins to help Grace find the killers of his wife, it becomes unclear who is helping whom.
In only his third film as director, Lee Whannell (the man synonymous with horror action flicks Saw and Insidious) has managed to create in Upgrade, an instant classic that borrows for the best of the 80’s without falling into the trappings that others have, when trying to recapture the sci-fi/action magic of the decade.
The action scenes featuring the ‘improved’ Trace and his villainous counterparts, all with their own upgrades, are incredible and Logan Marshall-Green puts in an amazing performance as Trace, a man slowly losing touch with his own humanity. Often times the action is grisly but offset with fleeting moments of humour that are reminiscent of Die Hard (without being cheesy), adding a much need balance to the film that makes it a joy to watch.
In the coming days we’ll be posting an interview with the director, where he discusses drawing from films like Terminator and Robocop for the hero and the story, along with his thoughts about having the film premiere here in his native country of Australia.
Be sure to check back soon.
Upgrade – In Cinemas June 14
For more films and info visit sff.org.au