In the popular ongoing theme of “what will happen when technology takes over”, Upgrade is a huge action-packed commentary on exactly that thought. It’s not clever as it never pretended to be and it’s not telling you a story you don’t already know. What Upgrade does is show you the ramifications of technology when the imagination becomes a reality.
In Australia alone, it’s predicted that by 2030 one in three jobs will be lost to machines (according to research from labour market experts Adzuna). Most people are probably encouraged to automate their own positions without realising what their future holds. Most of these jobs will be entry level skilled or manual labour jobs. But with leaps and bounds in technology for these areas, when it comes to medical advances only the imagination can really grasp its future.
And that’s where the movie Upgrade streams in. This film manages to whip up a crazy thought about making a quadriplegic walk again and turn it into reality in the most Hollywood way.
Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) is your everyday American car loving guy. He’s one of the few people who hasn’t had some sort of technological upgrade to their body. He’s also managed to nab a beautiful loving wife, Asha.
In a horrible car accident that leaves Grey a quadriplegic and his wife Asha dead, Grey struggles to find meaning in life and wants an out. One of Grey’s clients, Eron, happens to know of Greys misfortune and offers a state of the art surgery for some new technology he’s been working on that will make him walk again. What Grey didn’t expect was the tiny bug sized piece of technology to completely take over his life.
Logan Marshall-Green who plays Grey Trace doesn’t come across as the leading man for such an adventurous film. However, it’s his low-key profile and demeanour that makes his character believable. Marshall-Green plays this really down to earth genuine guy as if he is that person. He does this amazing thing after he kills someone where he is having this internal battle with the realisation of what he’s just done and also what he’s accomplished. Sometimes these little scenes are hilarious as he navigates what’s just happened.
For a large number of films with big action-based fight scenes there is a whole lot of over use of CGI, Upgrade thankfully is not part of that club. The fight scenes are so well choreographed and full of fast paced fights, for a second, you’d be excused if you thought an actual robot was controlling Greys body. There isn’t any of that lag or that fake look you get with some films.
It’s these fights scenes for the most part that are some of the more gruesome of any action film to come out of late. For some part there are a large number of scenes people will have to look away. For the other scenes, they actually play a big part of the story line. Even Grey himself has to look away at some of the brutality. In addition to the brutal and fatal fight scenes, there’s also the surgery scenes. These are not for the faint hearted as they slice down to Greys spine to insert the chip.
Overall Upgrade is on par with that “brutal take no prisoners feel” you get from John Wick, just a whole lot more sci-fi. It most certainly delivers on action and at times will make you giggle. If you can stomach some of the brutal scenes you will most likely enjoy the fighting as it’s some great choreography and camera work. It’s not a new concept and it most certainly doesn’t try to show off in any way. Ultimately, it’s just another Hollywood attempt at commentating on that age-old question about when will technology take over.
Review by Jay Cook