Upgrade film review: alleviating horror with humour


Melanie Vallejo and Logan Marshall-Green in Upgrade.
Melanie Vallejo and Logan Marshall-Green in Upgrade.

WHAT a trip.

With a dash of comedy, splash of bloody gore and a hefty dose of sci-fi, Upgrade is a recipe for a good time.

Despite their differences – Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) is a technophobe while his wife Asha Trace (Melanie Vallejo) works for technologically innovative company Cobolt – they are deeply in love.

But tragedy strikes when they are attacked by a group of criminals, and Asha is killed and Grey is left quadriplegic and wheelchair-bound.

Grey reluctantly agrees to host, under strict secrecy, an experimental STEM implant which is a technology that can make him fully functional again, but with some enhanced features including an option in which it takes over his movements.

Grey delves into the murky criminal underground to find who killed his wife, leaving a trail of bodies behind him.

Police are further baffled because some evidence indicates Grey’s involvement, but how could it be if he can’t move from the neck down?

There are some cliches built into the DNA of this funky and down-and-dirty sci-fi action film (the pretty, dead wife, the husband on a rampage of revenge) but Upgrade has so many other clever elements to it.

Writer/director Leigh Whannell has tipped his hat to other films such as RoboCop and Blade Runner with its story and visual design, but makes this film his own, and it’s a real treat for those who can stomach it.

The breathtakingly choreographed action scenes are dazzlingly energetic, innovatively captured and usually punctuated with some gasp-inducing horror (a nod to the Saw franchise he co-created).

But Whannell also makes sure he alleviates the horror with some humour.

Upgrade is the kind of film that sneaks up on you out of nowhere and leaves you clapping with glee at its boldness.

THE ESSENTIALS

Upgrade (MA)

Directed by: Leigh Whannell

Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Richard Anastasios, Rosco Campbell

Four stars

Review by Julian Wright

In cinemas June 14