In a crowded market of movies populated by superheroes or Star Wars, "Upgrade" seems destined to be a vastly overlooked piece of sci-fi cinema. This is unfortunate, because this movie is clearly geared for that particular audience who would watch those comic book space opera films. In fact, I would say that the kind of fan who goes deep into these kinds of genre films should really appreciate what this movie has to offer.
Writer-Director Leigh Whannell seems to have been clearly influenced by many genre films. I'm talking about movies like Robocop, John Wick, Death Wish, anime like Ghost In The Shell, or even 2001 A Space Odyssey. There are shades of those movies scattered throughout, which gives us the movie audience a comfortable sense of watching something pleasantly familiar, but at the same time recognizing it still having a fresh feel to the whole thing.
The premise of this being a revenge tale, set in the near future, involving humans that are upgraded by cybernetics and artificial intelligence, makes this movie automatically awesome. With that said, it's not perfect. The derivative elements might not excite some people, and I know there's one particular plot point in the story that is just a tired piece of writing. There are also some plot conveniences that could have been handled a little better as well. Also, I can't deny that the characters in this movie are generic as heck!
While the movie isn't necessarily genre-breaking, what happens in this movie will still at least give it a chance to be an instant cult classic. Any scene involving Logan Marshall-Green's character bantering with the Artificial Intelligence named STEM that Simon Maiden voices, are all just quite entertaining to watch. The hand to hand action sequences are just a blast to see on screen. Plus the follow-up camera that is utilized many different times gives this movie a kinetic personality to how it looks. I should also mention that it made the right call of not shying away from showing graphic death scenes, that's also a call back to the violent sci-fi flicks from the 1980s.
Despite it not being a typical blockbuster of a movie, "Upgrade" was undeniably a very fun science-fiction action flick. By the end of it all, don't be surprised if you find yourself wanting there to be a sequel for you to watch immediately.
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