'Upgrade' provides viewers a futuristic movie with a grounded feel. / MadMan Films

Surprises in theater-released movies are typically hard to come by.

More often than not, preview ads blasted on every platform give the audience a good idea of what they’re getting into. So when I say that “Upgrade” was the most surprising movie for me in the last decade, I’m not using the phrase lightly. 

“Upgrade” is a science fiction film released in 2018 that follows a mechanic named Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) who suffers a ruthless attack alongside his wife; this attack ultimately kills his wife and leaves him paralyzed.

As he contemplates how to go on living in this state, he meets with one of his wealthiest customers, young scientist Eron Keen (Harrison Gilbertson) who claims he can cure him. By integrating artificial intelligence into his brain, Trace not only gains the ability to walk again but also obtains an unlikely ally who can help him catch the attackers who killed his wife. 

Providing or revealing any more details would be spoiling too much. I can’t stress enough how important it is to go into this movie as open-minded as possible. The twists and turns it takes make it a short but sweet roller coaster ride that puts a fresh take on the classic revenge movie formula. 

Without delving into spoilers, the movie does an excellent job of working with what it has. Despite the futuristic setting, the film still maintains a very grounded feel. Sure, there are self-driving cars and tables that double as  holographic tablets, but there isn’t anything that strays too far from realism.

In fact, even the hyper intelligent AI feels like a close relative to Alexa or Siri. 

As for the performances, they were pretty impressive even though none of the actors involved are considered “A-List.” Marshall-Green in particular does a stellar job of selling his character. His transformation from technophobic mechanic to powerful cyborg does a great job of showing a man willing to do whatever it takes to avenge his love. 

The movie does contain its fair share of violence. I can’t recommend it to anyone who is overly squeamish or possesses an intense dislike for violence. I promise to have some more tame recommendations in the future. 

With all that being said, I can’t think of a movie that deserves the title of ‘Hidden Gem’ more.

After flying under the radar during its release, the film has gained a bit of a cult following online. “Upgrade” stands as a callback to what made older movies classics. It is not afraid to throw in some shocking scenes here and there, and at an hour and forty minutes it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

While the beginning may be a bit slow to some, the payoff is worth it as things spiral towards a chilling conclusion. 

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