If you’re into grisly, gruesome, dystopian sci-fi, you might watch this low-budget, revenge saga from writer/director Leigh Whannel (“Saw,” “Insidious”). One evening when automobile mechanic Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) takes his tech-exec wife, Asha (Melanie Vallejo), to visit a reclusive client, billionaire inventor Eron (Harrison Gilbertson), Asha’s self-driving car goes awry – after which she is killed by a gang of thugs and he is left as a quadriplegic. Continue reading…
Grief-stricken and severely depressed, Grey is suicidal – until Eron offers an experimental ‘biomechanical modification’ which, when inserted into his spinal cord, will ‘upgrade’ his paralyzed physique.
Known as STEM, it’s an Artificial Intelligence entity – voiced by Simon Maiden in a formal monotone that resembles HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” STEM enables Grey not only to regain control of his body but also to experience extraordinary physical prowess.
“Do not get overconfident, Grey,” STEM warns.
Keeping his brand-new mobility a secret from the detective (Betty Gabriel) investigating his case, Grey becomes a vigilante, determined to find the hoodlums and wreak vengeance.
There’s a particularly ridiculous scene in which a bad guy sneezes, emitting a swarm of sharp nanobots that fly up an adversary’s nose, shredding his brain.
FYI: When Grey goes to the apartment house to find someone named ‘Jamie,’ he looks at the list of buzzers, one of which is labeled ‘J. Wan,’ a subtle tribute to James Wan, Leigh Whannel’s “Saw” collaborator. And the name ‘Eron’ is obviously supposed to evoke thoughts of Tesla’s Elon Musk.
Made by the same action/horror-specialty company that did “Get Out,” it’s nowhere near as effective and intriguing.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Upgrade” is an auto-piloted 5, yet another schlocky techno thriller