Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) doesn’t like technology and laments the slow demise of the analog world. He feels out of place in a future full of self-driving cars and computer implants. However, a series of tragic events leaves him a quadriplegic, putting him in a position where a new experimental augmentation technology might be his only chance to walk again. The revolutionary Stem system allows Grey not only to recover from his injuries, but also allows him to perform with superhuman abilities. It seems Grey may have one last chance to set things right.
Slipping under the radar isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In this case, Upgrade managed to make it to theaters without a host of fanfare or massive marketing blitz. Perhaps it’s because the film comes from Australia, or maybe the studio didn’t feel the need for a yearlong marketing campaign to drive audiences to theaters on opening weekend. In either case, it was a pleasant surprise to head to the theater with no preconceived notions about a film and be pleasantly surprised.
Upgrade presents a story that is intense, its core being the tale of a man who is grievously wronged and then goes to extraordinary lengths to find those responsible for his plight. It is a story we’ve all heard a hundred times and, in that respect, Upgrade becomes a little predictable at times. Still, the film has many facets, and in this case the overall presentation is engaging enough that it is easy to overlook the film’s minor flaws. Relying on atmosphere and tension to tell its tale, Upgrade gets a lot of mileage out of its protagonist and his unique relationship with the technological marvel implanted within him. Add in some dark humor, a healthy dose of hard-hitting action and some great attention to detail, and Upgrade makes for a wholly entertaining experience.
Where many films would get by with visually dramatic effects, Upgrade offers a simpler experience that feels more visceral and, ultimately, more realistic, despite the film’s science-fiction premise. If nothing else, Upgrade is a testament that good films come in all flavors and that proper execution is more important than genre, special effects, budget or star power. Upgrade may not get enough circulation to leave a lasting impression, but it is a worthy film that doesn’t deserve to go unnoticed.