Movie Review: UPGRADE - Is Artificial Intelligence Our Future?

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Movie Review: UPGRADE - Photo credit: batcountrysite.wordpress, edition by Amber255 via

Back in the 1960s, the first theories about transhumance appeared - the philosophical direction, according to which humanity can bring its immortality closer thanks to technology development. At first, such thoughts were born in the minds of science fiction, but very soon such an attractive message was reflected in many modern people. 

Now it’s really possible to extend a person’s life for several decades by replacing organs (but they aren’t being printed on a 3D printer in large numbers), and immortality no longer seems completely unrealistic to transhuman advocates.

Quite enough thematic games (Deus Ex) and films (A.I. Artificial Intelligence, Elysium, Lucy) have already been released, but till these ideas are popular, will always be released new works. Such one is the Australian director Leigh Whannell's UPGRADE.

The triumph of a film like Upgrade, an unapologetic B-movie, is that it aims low and exceeds expectations.


The film talks about high technology, smart homes, artificial intelligence, and things like that, and that surprise no one already. Why?! Yes, recently about this topic studios create a lot of films. And not only the films, but also the animation from various sides investigate these questions, but this does not mean that there is nowhere to find new ideas. 

Much remains in the shadows, so a competent producer will find an opportunity to make a movie with a twist and stand out among the same type of tapes. This is exactly what can be said about the new work of director Leigh Whannell, who directed this film.

UPGRADE, Official Trailer - Video credit:

The Short Story Of The Movie 

The future. Most people shift their daily duties to equipment, thus facilitating the routine life: no more cooking, no need to know how to drive a car, no need to go to the store to shop. But everything has a downside: if technology fails, you can even lose your life. That happened to Grey (Logan Marshall-Green).

The wife dies, and he is completely paralyzed. However, suddenly a tempting offer comes from the old employer: to introduce artificial intelligence into the body of a crippled man, who would be able to take on the role of intermediary transmitting brain impulses to the spinal cord, once again allowing him to stand up in the direct and figurative sense.

Now Grey needs to find out who is behind the accident, and he begins his hunt.

But each decision has consequences, sometimes very significant and painful.

UPGRADE review - Photo credit: twitter

Content Of The Movie

Many compare this film with the Marvel comic's blockbuster - Venom. And there really are many similar elements. STEM, the artificial intelligence that is introduced into Grey's body, as well as symbiote Venom inside Eddie Brocks' body - they both argue with their careers; both endow the original owner of the body with new abilities that are inaccessible to the average person.

 But surprisingly, UPGRADE is a tougher version of the Venom. It is felt and purely at the visual level (much tougher and bloody fights), and it affects the plot. Although the seemingly alien black clot should definitely be less humane. But no, the Venom’s 13+ qualification does not allow Venom to become a real monster, but nobody pushes an UPGRADE into such a tough age frame.

Sci-fi action thriller UPGRADE - Photo credit: universalpictures

 I love such fiction movies: naive, atmospheric, with advanced technological twists.

Leigh Whannell, like some other directors, shared his thoughts on the topic of artificial intelligence and the fact that people are not yet able to evaluate the actions of a computer to understand the principles of their decision making in certain situations.

A few years ago in the news, it was possible to read that artificial intelligence for the first time managed to deceive a person. During one of the tests, artificial intelligence lined up its answers, that the group of experts decided that the answers were answered by a living person, not a machine.  What to expect from technology in the near future is unknown, but all this can turn against humanity, especially if the machine understands what is threatened (this, by the way, can be seen in the fantasy film Red Planet with Val Kilmer, where the machine considering him an enemy started hunting him).

Fantasy film UPGRADE - Photo credit:

The theme of revenge for your beloved is naturally not new, but in the UPGRADE, it is wrapped in an attractive wrapper and is presented not at all as banal revenge served with blood, but as something more. As a story of human interaction and artificial intelligence, which is enhanced by the finale and reveals a great ending for the viewer, not without intriguing scenes, sudden plot twists, and a shocking outcome.

The film begins with a tragedy, and then, gradually gaining momentum, turns into quite a solid thriller.

So, the film begins with today's standards banal. And it seems that the key intrigue is not an intrigue since it quickly becomes clear what exactly happened and who exactly is behind all this. However, not everything is as simple as it seems. The plot tells of a very likely development of events, well-tailored and fascinatingly served. Too much dynamism and action, so there is no time to be bored, and you look at combat scenes with not hidden pleasure.

There are bloody scenes, but they are not that terrifying, but even served with some humor, specific, but still humor.

Revenge film UPGRADE - Photo credit: imdb

The film is not at all empty. there is a lot of philosophy in it about our being, and about the challenges that modernity dictates to us. And the finale worth all praises!

The creators turned out to fill it with fantasy, an action, a thriller, a detective story, and even a little comedy, but also they managed not to overdo it. Everything looks balanced, easy and quite succinctly. And in a niche of sci-fi that is accessible to a wide audience, the film does look like a neat decoration.

In addition, some paradoxes of cyborgs are considered: where is the line beyond which a modified person is no longer a person? 

Characters Of The Movie

The interaction of Grey and STEM keeps the movie; they are the source of its versatility. According to the trailers, the UPGRADE seems to be just a fighter, but in reality, this is not so, all thanks to the strange duet of the main characters. The film to the fullest uses the union of a man and reasonable computer. 

UPGRADE review - Photo credit: megomovie

Together, the partners even do a detective work: the computer tells Grey correct remarks in conversations with the police and the gangsters and points to possible evidence. In the battle, STEM completely takes control of Grey's body - at these moments the film turns into a rather peculiar and very beautiful action.

What the character is Grey? Grey loves to deal with cars and is one of those who does not see much benefit from modern advances in science and technology. If the cars - then those which are working on a diesel engine and which are better controlled by yourself, and not trust the autopilot. If cooking, do it yourself, not with a 3D printer. In other words, Grey is a man of traditional beliefs in everything related to life comforts.

Revenge film UPGRADE - Photo credit: deloittesmartreports

Once he gets into a car accident and then loses his wife and gets into a wheelchair. Having accepted the offer to become a participant in one experiment, he receives a super modern Stam chip, which not only returns Grey to normal life, but also endows him with incredible qualities in strength, memory, and capabilities. So, there enters a STEM. 

Grey's computer mate had a passive-aggressive character and a lot of charm and irony. The very brutal auto mechanic Grey in the film more acts as a pacifist - it is the AI that pushes him to violence, hiding behind calculation and logic.

Asocial genius Eron Keen playing in God, good cop Cortez, and Nazi cyborg Fisk - their characters are not very interesting and clearly caricatured, but we take it for granted.

Check Querlo chat about another movie I offer to watch: 

The Technical Side Of The Movie 

The 5 millionth budget for such a technologically advanced film as UPGRADE seems to be so small. But in fact, it turns out that even with such meager costs you can make a great fantasy film with good special effects. Suppose there are not so many manifestations of the future, but this does not prevent the viewer from plunging into a certain futuristic world of the future with elements of cyberpunk. 

Writer/director Leigh Whannell gives us a glimpse of the near-future and it's both fascinating and terrifying.

Credit: thestar

The film does not feel cheap because of the competent construction of the universe and the choice of artistic means. For example, the location for filming: with the exception of Grey’s house and Eron Keen's lair, everything was filmed in real locations and enhanced with graphics. The world of the future in the view of Leigh Whannell is not too different from ours. At least for the lower and, in part, for the middle class. But the elect ones already live in the future.

Beautiful picture and drawing of the world with advanced technology pleased.

 As I said before, I do not want to search for any flaws of the movie as I enjoyed watching it. So, I am satisfied with the technical side, especially knowing how little cost filming of the UPGRADE. 

Director Leigh Whannell Talks about the Making of UPGRADE - Video credit: youtube

The Collective Work Of The Actors

Excellent acting is also present, especially remember the performer of the main role, Logan Marshall-Green, and Harrison Gilbertson, who played the role of a talented scientist not of this world.

Surprisingly, for a long time, while watching, I doubted whether the protagonist is still Logan Marshall-Green or Tom Hardy. Green with a short beard is like Hardy, and here in some scenes, his moves are very similar to the habits of Tom.

Sci-fi action thriller UPGRADE - Photo credit: camseyeview

Marshall-Green, among other things, did a great job on plastics: when the control over the body of his character captures the computer brain, the way of movement changes accordingly. Especially effectively it looks in the battle scenes, originally also set and filmed - just a fairy tale. Without beautiful and expensive computer special effects, but with a soul. In terms of blood. Honest adult rating - all right.

In supporting roles, we see Benedict HardieBetty GabrielSteve Danielsen, Harrison Gilbertson, and others. there are not big stars of Hollywood, but actors did their best. Acting is unlikely to look incredible or unbelievable. However, within the limits of the material that the script offers, it looks quite organic and not at all annoying.

Best movies of 2018: UPGRADE - Photo credit: hookedonfilmwa.wordpress

On A Final Note

 Fantasy - a genre in demand always, and stories about the conflicts of man and machine are among the most common. As a rule, high-quality fiction is costly, but more and more often there are authors who are able to create strong works with a minimum of capital investment. UPGRADE boldly proves that high-quality entertainment fiction can be done if there is a wish, love for your work and no material possibilities. So what is the excuse for big studios?

As a result, UPGRADE is a great example of a fantastic action movie with really interesting characters, an intriguing storyline and a very unpredictable clever and strongly motivated antagonist.  If you do not like the Venom, then try this film better. Probably, you will get what you missed in Venom.


Movie Review: UPGRADE - Video credit:

The main idea of Leigh Whannell was to tell a story about how a paralyzed man returns to ordinary life using an implant.

I really liked this film, that rare case when the film doesn’t cause questions; when everything in it is so cool that I don’t want to look for flaws at all. Director Lee Wannell seems to have spoken about a possible continuation, and this is an anticipation of something even more fascinating because the film ended awfully.

Grey Trace , Stem : A fake world is a lot less painful than the real one.

Credit: imdb

I liked this thesis above of Grey Trace personage. As an explanation of why many people run from reality into games and fantasies; it looks very convincing.

My rating: 9.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 86/100
Metacritic: 67/100
Critics average: 8.7/100
IMDb: 7.6/10


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