June 6, 2018

Upgrade: Cured Quadriplegic Crime Victim Seeks Revenge

By Kam Williams

Mechanic Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) is a vanishing breed. He’s an an old school grease monkey who rolls up his sleeves and repairs classic cars without the help of diagnostic computers.

He asks his wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo), to follow him in her self-driving car so he can return the Pontiac Firebird that he’s just finished working on to its owner, high-tech mogul Eron King (Harrison Gilbertson). The eccentric billionaire has a subterranean research laboratory hidden just beneath the ocean’s shoreline. He proudly tells Asha and Grey about his company’s latest invention, an implantable computer chip that is programmed with artificial intelligence (AI).

On their way home, Asha’s self-driving car is hacked and forced to drive to a seedy side of town where it crashes. The couple is then attacked by a sadistic gang that murders Asha and leaves Grey a crippled quadriplegic.

When Eron learns of Grey’s misfortune, he offers the grieving widower an opportunity to walk again. Eron’s crew will implant Stem (Simon Maiden), one of their AI computer chips in his spinal cord that will be able to talk to Grey.

The operation transforms Grey from a bed-ridden cripple into a superhuman vigilante who sets out to track down and punish the gang of muggers in a bloody reign of terror. However, to accomplish this, he has to temporarily allow Stem to take charge.

The plot thickens when Stem seems reluctant to return control of the body to Grey. Could Stem be attempting to wrest complete control of Grey’s body permanently? And what are Stem’s future plans for Grey’s body?

Upgrade is a riveting thriller written and directed by Leigh Whannell, creator of the Saw and Insidious, a horror film series.

Excellent (****). Rated R for profanity, graphic violence, and grisly images.

Running time: 95 minutes. Production Studios: BH Tilt/Goalpost Pictures/OTL Releasing. Distributor: Blumhouse Productions/Universal Pictures.