Directed by: Leigh Whannel
Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Melanie Vallejo, Steve Danielsen
Another film that I went to see at this year’s Frightfest was ‘Upgrade’. In the film, Logan Marshall-Green (Devil) plays Grey, a mechanic living in a not so distant technologically advanced world. After his wife is killed and he is left a quadriplegic by a gang, he is told by a past client that he could regain control of his limbs via a computer chip called STEM. Once installed, Grey forms a strange bond with the chip as it helps him discover who killed his wife and why.
I’m just going to be completely direct: This is hands down my favourite film of this year. I had been anticipating this film for a long time and it exceeded all of my expectations. Logan-Marshall Green carries the film incredibly well and seems very comfortable in his first lead role, whether it’s a dialogue or fight scene. Especially given that a lot of his dialogue is directed to a voice in his head, I was very impressed with his acting, and I look forward to seeing more from him in the future.
One of the main highlights of the film was the fighting sequences. The choreography was fantastic and also brought humour to the film as we see STEM take over Grey’s body. This meant that the fighting manoeuvres were sleek and robotic-like, however, Grey’s facial expressions would be more human: acting surprised or scared as his body goes against his control. The cinematography was also unique throughout these scenes: they were filmed with a steadicam, which followed Grey’s movements. This gave the film a unique and, at times, dizzying look that could’ve been influenced by Ilya Naishuller’s fantastic POV film ‘Hardcore Henry’. A word of advice: don’t watch ‘Upgrade’ if you suffer from motion sickness!
‘Upgrade’ also looks gorgeous, and the visual effects were incredible for the low budget the film had ($5 million). The world that was set up was also visually interesting, with a mixture of futuristic technology and grubby locations of a world left behind. It looked like a future that would and could be possible.
Overall, I loved it. It was a fun-filled rollercoaster of a film. While the plot is something that has been replicated a dozen times, the execution of the story is what makes it stand out.