Set shortly in the future, Upgrade is a brutal story about a man named Grey. During an unexpected attack and mugging, Grey ends up witnessing the murder of his wife. Grey gets left for dead, alone and paralysed in hospital. In hospital, Grey is soon approached by a billionaire tech developer who offers to “Upgrade” Grey’s entire body with a software and hardware product known as “Stem”. Stem is a new artificial intelligence, unlike anything the world has ever seen.
Upgrade’s world is dirty and gritty, and the film captured this world entirely. Unlike big, futuristic films showing a far off future (like Blade Runner, Fifth Element or Back to Future), Upgrade presents itself as the near future, with advancements made in phones, cars and computer tech. As a sci-fi film, there are plenty of creative elements which I enjoyed. I couldn’t help but notice a clever use of the colour red throughout the film too.
On the flip side, other than just a sci-fi film, we also have a thriller. I love how this film is not just “another revenge” story. The film’s story unravels in a way that you feel you can predict what’s going to happen next, and yet I found myself surprised at multiple times, including the film’s ending (which I want to talk about, but I will restrain myself from doing so).
The action scenes are fun and at times at surprisingly entertaining. As Stem takes over, Grey is always shocked and surprised by his actions at every turn, and the acting is a credit to the lead actor. Action scenes also use snappy camera work and are shot on different angles. Sometimes the camera will turn on its side when people fall, once again making great of creativity. The action scenes also drop some laughs, which I also found unexpected.
The film’s audio track is a BLAST. With a useful (and yet essential) soundtrack, Upgrade’s motion picture audio track never left me disappointed. The soundtrack is crafty and felt creepy, but the audio track is incredibly detailed to suit the sci-fi world. Selected voices appear used in all cinema speakers, and many effects such as gunshots or doors closing were also detailed, even when something occurred out of frame.
Overall, this is a fun sci-film film which has created as a thriller. Even when you think you know everything, the film manages to surprise you, including the film’s epic ending. The film audio track will impress, making it very rewarding for those who see this on the big screen. Credit to the film’s marketing too, as many elements of the film were unexpected and enjoyable. There’s not much to dislike here.
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Review Written by Peter Walkden