|UPGRADE (director/writer: Leigh Whannell; cinematographer: Stefan Duscio; editor: Andy Canny; music: Jed Palmer; cast: Logan Marshall-Green (Grey Trace), Betty Gabriel (Detective Cortez), Melanie Vallejo (Asha Trace), Harrison Gilbertson (Eron Keen), Benedict Hardie (Fisk), Christopher Kirby (Tolan), Linda Cropper (Pamela), Simon Maiden (Stem), Michael M. Foster (Jeffries), Richard Cawthorne (Serk), Sachin Joab (Dr. Bhatia), Clayton Jacobson (Manny), Rosco Campbell (VR guy ); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Jason Blum/Kylie Du Fresne/Brian Kavanaugh-Jones; Blumhouse Productions; 2018-Australia)|
|"Grisly sci-fi low-budget old-fashioned
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Australian filmmaker Leigh Whannell ( “Insidious: Chapter 3”) is director and writer of this grisly sci-fi low-budget old-fashioned action movie--one that is slightly updated from a RoboCop venture.
Auto mechanic Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) visits with his corporate tech executive wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo), in her self-driving car, his hermit billionaire inventor client Eron (Harrison Gilbertson). When the car malfunctions because of a cyber-attack and leaves them stranded, she is killed with a hand gun by a roving gang and he's left as a quadriplegic. As a result, the depressed Grey becomes suicidal. Eron steps in to offer an experimental ‘biomechanical modification.’ It will be a micro-chip inserted into his neck as an ‘upgrade’ for his medical problem-giving him a new and more advanced brain that will allow him to walk again and move his arms. This upgrade is an AI process, called a STEM (which is voiced by Simon Maiden). If you think Kubrick's HAL in “2001: A Space Odyssey,” you're on the right track.
The vic, now living in a futuristic digital world, keeps it secret from Detective Cortez (Betty Gabriel), who is assigned to his crime case. Grey thereby aims to find on his own his thug attackers and pay them back, and allows the STEM to investigate the crime scene freely and go into the attack mode if necessary.
The B movie pulp fiction tale offers low-level thrills in its cheesy Grand Guignol presentation, which aims to please an undemanding audience that demands the bad guys receive the OT's "An Eye for an Eye" punishment. If you can live with that, this film works fine.
REVIEWED ON 8/25/2018 GRADE: B-
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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