Vinny Thornburg’s review published on Letterboxd:
Upgrade is a film that starts rough. It throws out its message of not letting ourselves become slaves to technology. A character meets another character and vomits out an exposition dump that was almost painful to listen to.
As more development takes place, we actually get one of the more ridiculous CSI moments involving security footage. Some of the CGI drones get silly, as every establishing shot is quick to throw one in. A drone even flies over a lens flare. OVER A LENS FLARE. Who doesn't catch that in editing? I worried about just how much of a slog this would be to get through.
However...Upgrade not only makes up for all that roughness, it made me wonder about if I really had anything to worry about at all. The gore and ultraviolence sneaks in, and the very well done fight scenes that follow create an atmosphere that promises to bring you not just a B-movie sci-fi horror, but something that you wont just forget as soon as it ends.
It's surprisingly brave for what it is. It's a future that isn't 80 years ahead with a world that's hard to attach too. There's self driving cars, but still plenty of people driving themselves. People with cybernetic implants don't walk around looking like obvious hybrids. This is about 10 years ahead, with hints of a possible bad future. It's not a dull sterile world. You could believe this being a possible world to an extent.
With an ending that can could only happen with an independent production, great use of practical effects, and a solid performance from Logan Marshall-Green Upgrade is a great summer surprise that needs to get some real marketing and word of mouth. It's completely worth the time!
EDIT: Spoilers below this line
There was someone taking notes to catch audience reactions as we walked out. As far as I can tell this also screened in St. Louis, Pittsburgh, Seattle, and other places last night.
I swear to any particular god you pray too, if the studio pusses out and changes the ending in this modern era of digital distribution to a "safer" ending I'll be slightly upset. This has a great anti-populist ending and it's all the better for it and deserves to stay.