upgrade | leigh whannell | logan marshall-green | richard anatasios | rosco campbell | action | sci-fi | sci fi | thriller | australia | melanie vallejo | betty gabriel | richard cawthorne | harrison gilbertson | benedict hardie | clayton jacobson | christopher kirby
Director: Leigh Whannell
Writer: Leigh Whannell
Starring: Logan Marshall-Green, Richard Anastasios and Rosco Campbell
This was a film that sparked my interest, but wasn’t sure how good it would be or if this film was horror or not. I saw that it is listed that way on the Internet Movie Database, so I decided to check it out. The official synopsis is set in the near-future, technology controls nearly all aspects of life. But when Grey, a self-identified technophobe, has his world turned upside down, his only hope for revenge is an experimental computer chip implant called Stem.
Now this was a film that I really like the concept og. I feel like as a people we are a slave to our technology and it both scares as well as intrigues me. I catch myself being on my phone a lot. Logan Marshall-Green is Grey Trace. He works with his hands on cars and doesn’t like to use all of the technology that is around him. His wife is Asha (Melanie Vallejo) who is quite the opposite; she works with a tech company.
The two of them experience tragedy though when Asha’s car which has an auto drive gets taken over and takes them to a rough area. The film does inform us that Grey grew up in this area. It then crashes and they are removed from their car by a nefarious group and then attacked. Asha is killed and Grey is left paralyzed. It is from here that he gives up on life, but a computer genius, Eron (Harrison Gilbertson) offers him a state of the art computer that attaches to the brain stem. It would allow him to walk again. I really liked this, because it throws Grey off when it starts talking and wants to help him get revenge.
There is an added dimension that there are drones that monitor for crime. The detective in charge of his case is Cortez (Betty Gabriel). She is similar to Grey in that she’s not the biggest fan of technology either. It raises the stakes that she is trying to solve the crime, but still being handicuffed by the law. When he starts to get his revenge, she has to try to stop him. It isn’t even necessarily that she doesn’t want justice, but she wants it done the right way and worried that something bad could happen to him with the group he is dealing with.
I like the revenge aspect of this film. It is something we can relate to, but this film takes it to another level. The computer makes him into a killing machine that can fight with great skill. The investigation is interesting and I think that is where the editing of the film comes in. It builds tension as more and more of the story is revealed. It is enjoyable him piecing things together and breaking away from Eron. That was really one of the only parts I have problems with, I don’t know if I buy that when Stem is being shut down, that it would take as long as it plays out in the film. This is just a minor quibble though. I really like how the film ends, even though some of the aspect is a little bit obvious. The final sequence though is great and exactly how I like films to end.
From there I have to go to the acting. Marshall-Green is great as the lead. He plays such an interesting character in a world that is built around him. I felt horrible for him and seeing him giving up on life was depressing. I did find myself getting really excited when he is getting his revenge, even though he is committing crimes in doing so. It is one of those things that you think about what you’d do if you were in that position. I thought Vallejo was cute and her character was good. They also bring her back for flashbacks and other things to build the story. Gilbertson is good as the computer genius. He comes off as very timid and awkward, which I believed it for a computer genius like he supposed to be. Gabriel was also very solid as the detective. I also found the villains to be good in their performances as well. The rest of the cast rounded out the film well.
The effects of the film are good. I like the details that were taken in things that Grey does. Like Stem not being able to move the neck or head, since Grey was a quadriplegic. I loved how the action sequences are filmed; they are not traditional and done with some pretty solid effects. There is actually some gore in the film that I wasn’t expecting. The blood has a good look and the effects for the gore looked to be practical. I definitely thought this was a strong part of the film.
The sound of the design was also something that was good. It definitely fit the scenes for what they were going for and it helped build the tension. The score does have a techno feel to it which keeps with the theme of the film and the world that it is set in.
Now with that said, I really enjoyed this film. I wouldn’t really consider this to be a true horror film, as it is more of a sci-fi thriller with some horror elements to it. It is made by Blumhouse and is the directorial debut for Leigh Whannell who also wrote the film. I thought the film has a pretty solid concept and the execution is good for the most part as well. I really like the ending even though some parts of it are obvious. The editing of the film is good in building to tension to that climax. I thought the acting was also good across the board; I didn’t really have any issues there. The effects were also solid and the sound design of the film helped for what they were going for. I don’t think this film is for everyone, but I love the issues they bring up with technology and the dangers of it. I would recommend seeing this film as it is just fun with a good story about it.
My Rating: 9 out of 10