Upgrade – 4/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Upgrade – 4/5 – The surprises that are instore when you walk into a movie theater are endless.  The idea that you can see something different and creative will capture the heart of true cinema splendor.  Upgrade is an indie film that combines creative action, interesting sci-fi and self-aware themes that is simply, entertaining.  Even when commonality litter throughout the plot, there is enough layers that make Upgrade one amazing experience.

Premise:  To get revenge from an unforeseen tragedy, Grey Trace goes through a risky surgery to become more machine than man.

In the lead role of Grey Trace is Logan Marshall-Green.  He does a great job capturing the essences of ambiguity and veracity of a man semi-controlled by a computer chip in his neck.  Outside of the physical prowess and out-of-body reflexes, the emotional turmoil from tragedy creates a persona that is cautious, wrecked, angry and focused.  Through mannerism and dialogue delivery, Marshall-Green provides a personification of entrapment with the computer chip.  That dynamic friendship with STEM (computer chip) generates trust and fear.  From the comical back-and-forth to the dramatic tension, you feel the harden worth of risk/reward elements that take place.  This props up the humanism in a contrasting world, adding to the question of man vs. machine.  For the rest of the cast, please refer to the film’s IMDb page.  The secondary characters’ acting range from decent individualistic representation of the world to one-dimensional sci-fi/action archetypes.  There is a sense that characterization isn’t needed, but the ‘throw away’ mentality only shows a serviceable trait for the story.

The film takes a basic ‘revenge’ outline and combines it with action/sci-fi elements.  The focal point of this combo centers on the character evolution of Grey Trace and his interactions with STEM.  By layering a straight forward narrative within a characterized approach, it creates a story that evolves with unexplained introductions.  This is given like puzzle pieces for a complete portrait.  This creates a situation that breeds an even flow between the sci-fi/action and drama, generating emotive values to each scene.  In the first act, you are introduced to the Grey Trace and his wife, Asha Trace.  After a few convenient plot driven scenes, it leaves Asha Dead and Grey paralyzed.  This ‘event’ drives him to risk his life (and body) and become implanted with STEM.  From here, it is a ripple effect that combines comedy, drama, action and thematic appeal.  From the unknown implant of STEM, the truth of his wife’s murder and the police following his every move, the revenge narrative is pushed with creative detail.  This detail comes through the homely shots, realistic settings and focal/quick angling action scenes.  Everything that seems unimaginable becomes a self-aware theme; a cautionary mirror into our own social norms.  For all the amazing detail, the simplistic narrative does have a flaw.  By moving through a revenge outline, it creates situations that are defined by repetition:

Dramatic monologue > New area to explore/investigate > Action scene ensues > Enter next scene

The film becomes predictable in the second act, driving a wedge into a lot of the creative appeal.  As everything is slowly revealed, it leads to a third act where the originality kicks in through some shocking truths.  Once at the climax, it takes on aspects of choice and consequence, which results ultimately to some unforeseen results.  Once in the epilogue, it presents an outcome that is unexpected but eerily refreshing.

The visuals are a great combination of outwardly appeal to obvious trends.  From the gritty city atmosphere, the onward watchful eyes of drones and enhanced body by technology, you feel the futurism being realistic.  By keeping the focus on one guy, it allows the audience to ‘see’ the world through a certain perspective.  On top of this, the action scenes are well choreographed; giving a sense of danger and grit.  The score goes from being non-existent to applicable.  It doesn’t add or take away any worth from the films enjoyment.

Upgrade is one of those rare films that takes the familiar and drives a creative wedge to create an experience that is unexpected.  If you’re a fan of sci-fi/action/revenge tales or like to be induced by something a bit more original, this is one for you.  It is worth going to seeing at the theater at full price.

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