Upgrade

Upgrade ★★★★

You might call this an upgrade on the typical revenge focused action movie. The story provides a totally unique take on the role artificial intelligence can take in our lives, albeit in a possible future. The theme of man's relationship with technology isn't really explored, but the world of this future is well built and most importantly, plausible.

The influences are both plentiful and obivous, but that's not a bad thing. The voice of the computer is very HAL-like from '2001', and the ressurected cyborg nature of the protagonist Grey to seek revenge against his wife's killers is very 'Robocop'. These don't feel like ripoffs though, they're proper homages since it's the basic details that are being imitated while the story and characters go in very different directions.

Every action scene knocks your socks off. It's so good that by the end I had wished there was more! Most memorably, the camera adopts an overstylized method to following Grey's body as it moves, keeping him in center frame at all times. This not only gives the action an easily identifiable visual style, but it also still allows us to easily follow what's going on.

Too many seminal action films utilized a terrible gimmick in an attempt to give the action scenes some punch, leading to hundreds of imitations that were almost always worse in execution but also proliferated these bad styles. I'm thinking of 'The Matrix' and the use of bullet time it inspired, or 'The Bourne Identity' and the subsequent oversaturated use of shaky cam, leading to thousands of copycat action movies with fight scenes where you couldn't tell who was hitting who.

This film doesn't suffer from that, utilizing this filming style that both is unique and also emphasises the machine-like precision of the STEM chip as it takes over Grey's actions. It makes you forget that the installation of a machine intelligence into this anti-AI character is completely against his normal personality, and when he relishes in his newfound abilities, we do too!

Certain aspects of the plot telegraph themselves a little too early, so some aspects of that lead to the film being somewhat predictable. But it's the latter half of the film where it takes twists I didn't expect, and they serve the movie well. You've probably heard of the very bleak ending, but this is a film that earns it, and thematically is in line with all the events that preceeded it.

I feel really bad that this didn't make much at the box office, it really is one of the better action films from 2018. But then again, I didn't see it in the theater either, so perhaps the fact that I never even knew it existed last year is due to poor marketing. Hopefully, like me, more people will discover it on VOD and make it the cult classic it seems destined to be. Four stars.

Guyzo997 liked these reviews

All