Cliff’s review published on Letterboxd:
A violent and gory sci-fi thriller about a man who's shot and left for dead by a criminal gang. But advanced technology allows him to get back on his feet, and he uses his newly superpowered body to find his attackers and get revenge. However, as he gets closer to the gang boss, something built into his tech tries to prevent him from completing his mission.
But enough about RoboCop.
In Upgrade, our hero is Grey, an old-school car mechanic who has no time for modern cybernetic upgrades. But after he's made quadriplegic, his most recent customer - an Elon Musk-like inventor called, um, Eron Keen - offers him Stem, an experimental spinal implant that will allow his muscles and nervous system to work again... and then some! Additionally, Stem becomes a voice in Grey's head, giving him advice, knowledge and observations beyond the capability of the human brain.
Grey's equivalent of Directive 4 is that Eron Keen is able to "try" to shut down Stem remotely, though why this should be a difficult thing to do, or why it should take several minutes to achieve, is a silly and glaring plot hole that doesn't make any sense in the film's world of otherwise seamless innovation.
It's also incredibly obvious who the Dick Jones of the scenario is; there are a few surprises, but unpredictability is not one of the movie's strong suits. However, it is a very entertaining actioner, with a great balance of believable and far-fetched near-future tech. And if lifting the story beats from one Paul Verhoeven blockbuster isn't enough for you, it even throws in an ending from Total Recall!