‘Upgrade’s writer/director Leigh Whannell is part of the generation bought up on films. Gaining his start as the resident movie critic in the music series ‘Recovery’ in the 90’s, he branched out to Hollywood to craft the type of movies he wanted to see. His contribution to the ‘Saw’ and ‘Conjuring’ horror franchises have seen this cinematic student live the dream. A cyberpunk sci-fi yarn, ‘Upgrade’ showcases more of his fascination with the fantasy/horror genre with its low budget hidden behind its big concepts.

Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) is a mechanic who mourning his wife’s death after they are both attacked by thugs. Coping with being made quadriplegic, Grey thinks he has nothing to live for. When scientist Eron Keen (Harrison Gilbertson) gives him a miracle computerized implant called STEM, Grey’s life turns around. Back to normal mobility, Grey hunts down his wife’s killers. Events swiftly spiral out of control as STEM begins to control Grey’s body in ways that have deadly consequences.

Although shot on a restricted budget, the monetary limitations doesn’t prevent ‘Upgrade’ from being captivating. Set in a futuristic world where technology and humanity fully merge, this blends well into the main story full of twists. Whilst the story may feel familiar, they way it’s told and filmed make it stand out. Coupled with Marshall-Green’s charismatic performance, ‘Upgrade’ makes a lot out of little.

‘Upgrade’s’ biggest assets are the cinematography and production design. Both tease out the grimy surroundings in which Grey lives perfectly. They paper over the cracks in terms of characterisation which is missing for most of the characters. ‘Upgrade’ leaves you wanting to know more about this dark world with only the surface scratched. The brisk pacing helps mask some of these issues so you don’t think too hard about the lack of genuine depth.

With news of a TV series version recently announced, ‘Upgrade’ is a good candidate for further investigation. This further development should compound any problems the film has even if overall it’s entertaining viewing. Whannell’s steady career can be an inspiration for an budding film-maker, especially film critics reviewing his movies.

Rating out of 10: 7


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