Following a brutal mugging that resulted in the loss of his wife and paralyzed him, Grey must overcome his aversion to technology when he receives an advanced AI system. Together Grey and STEM, the experimental AI implanted into his body, seek out the ones responsible for that night to execute brutal and gory revenge.
Upgrade is a fun movie. It takes elements of sci-fi body horror and action and mixes them up into something nice. The best part of the movie for me had to be STEM. STEM was a great and kind of unexpected villain. I say unexpected because I figured it would be the villain but I didn’t expect it to be the mastermind behind everything from the beginning. STEM forced its creator to orchestrate the mugging as STEM caused the car crash that stranded Grey and his wife in the area. Once it was in Greys body it spent the next few days ensuring that he was constantly exerting himself to the point where his mind would be too exhausted to resist it, enabling STEM to permanently take over his body. Once that happens Grey is stuck in a dream like state where everything was a dream and he’s woken up in the hospital with his wife next to him, meanwhile STEM has a human body which he can navigate society easily with. STEMs character integrating into human society with his hyper intelligence and superhuman combat abilities is something I wish we got to see, unfortunately that may be only be shown with a possible sequel.
This movie had some really great action scenes as a result of Grey turning over control to STEM. Being an AI he’d move in this fast and jerky robotic style, dispatching enemies with cold, calculated precision. It was kind of like something out of the Matrix except STEM was way more brutal and devastating. These scenes looked pretty good and made for some pretty sick kills with STEMs lack of emotional attachment to human life and all. The use of practical effects for the kills made them look gory and visceral and was a great throwback to old school action flicks that did the same. Practical effects will always reign supreme over CGI in my opinion and it’s great to still see it being used in film today.
The main actor did a really good job as well. Its interesting to see him torn between wanting revenge for his wife being murdered yet also disliking how STEM wanted to go about it. Because of the way they’re connected to each other, Grey is fully conscious of what STEM does when it takes over. Grey was visibly disturbed by the things that STEM did and it took its tole on him mentally, to the point where he wanted to give up his pursuit of revenge, only to be forced to coninue against his will, reduced to a passanger in his own body.
Overall, Upgrade is a great movie. Its got great acting, a good story with a great villain, and great effects. The mix of sci-fi body horror with action is interesting and was executed pretty well in this. Coupled with the great use of practical effects, this movie is a must watch.