Brandon’s review published on Letterboxd:
This was such a wild ride. It takes a pretty simple idea and amps it to a level on genius that only works if you’re passionate about the subject matter. It is a science fiction film, but it makes it feel so human and so authentic and so relatable that you’re equally rooting and fearfully afraid for our protagonist.
Upgrade is anchored by an impressive performance by Logan Marshall-Green. He inhabits this role so well, and balances the quirks of this performance with such ease. He takes you on an experience, as each moment feels exciting and shocking. The supporting cast doesn’t get too much to work with, but they’re serviceable enough to help get the plot moving from scene to scene.
The film would have been a little more intriguing if the setup wasn’t so cliched though. The fact that film had to rely on killing it’s protagonist’s wife to get the film started seems lazy, and just doesn’t seem necessary. The film could have worked seamlessly without that, and would have added another layer of drama with the marital woes. That omission would have also prevented the pointless paraplegic setup as well, as it feels completely unnecessary to the overall plot. It being added doesn’t detract from the exciting film being presented, but it just shows how unoriginal and lazy the screenwriter was in getting the movie started.
The camerawork and cinematography was really impressive. The fighting sequences are filmed so interesting, and feels more like a video game — which is very effective considering the plot of the film. The ease of the camera as it moves around the scene is really wonderful to watch, and adds an extra level of excitement to the overall experience. The dark and grittiness of the production design and lighting design helps create an atmosphere of dread and suspense that works so well.
The ending works, and I enjoyed the way things were wrapped up, but not in your typical everything-is-fine manner. The twists in the final act works, and they were shocking and unexpected. And it kind of goes full circle, and makes for a satisfying conclusion. Upgrade is an exciting science fiction action/horror, that knows what it needed to do to standout — sure it has some flaws, but the positives outweigh those and create an impressive and exciting original movie that was most needed.