Director: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Richard Anastasios, Rossco Campbell
Just a few weeks ago I talked about how I feel like the Horror genre is one of the few that continues to innovate and produce original films. Now while tonight's movie is in no way a Horror film, it does owe much to the genre. You see, the film's Writer/Director Leigh Whannell, got his start in the business co-writing/co-starring in a little Horror/Mystery flick called "Saw" in 2004. Regardless of where the series ended up, those first two films in the series are really fun Horror "who done it"s and the monumental success of the low budget shocker catapulted him and his Friend/Co-Writer/Director, James Wan, into the forefront of the genre. They would go on to work together a total of 5 times to date including the launching of another Horror series with 2010's "Insidious", and have also enjoyed success on their own. "Upgrade" marks Whannell's second ever directorial effort and his first foray into the Action/Sci-Fi genres, and as someone who has enjoyed most all of his work I have to say I was pretty excited going into it. What were my feelings walking out? Well lets dive right in and find out!
After his wife is killed and he is left a paraplegic, Grey Trace receives experimental surgery that implants an A.I. controlled microchip, "Stem", into his spine to give him back mobility. When the A.I. wakes up though it decides to help Trace find the men who killed his wife.
Remember all that talk of innovation and originality I've been talking about in regards to the Horror genre? I am ecstatic to report that Whannell has brought the same mentality and passion to the Action/Sci-Fi genres. The story of revenge for the death of a loved one maybe be tried and true yes, but "Upgrade" gets to give the idea a fun twist with the addition of the "Stem" A.I. being able to control and manipulate Grey's body in a way that no human ever should be able to. Add a truly heartfelt and surprisingly physical lead performance from Logan Marshall-Green, a story filled with so many twists and turns that it even caught me off guard, and some of the most brutal, gory, and satisfying action sequences this side of the original "Robocop" and you have one of the best and most surprising films of the summer. If you don't mind your Action films with (more then) a little blood I can not stress enough how enjoyable of a ride "Upgrade" truly is.
Trivia from IMDB for Upgrade:
The film was originally titled Stem
When Gray is entering the apartment block to find "Jamie", he pauses at some apartment buzzers. One of them says "J. Wan" - James Wan has been Leigh Whannel's main collaborator since the first "Saw" film.
Part of the film is filmed on the Hume Freeway in Cragieburn Melbourne Australia.