Upgrade follows a man (Logan Marshall-Green) who loses his wife and becomes paralyzed after an altercation with some goons. He is offered a second chance at life when he is approached by a technology mogul who says he can make him walk again. But the chip implanted in his neck offers more than just motor skills and has a mind of its own.
Upgrade feels like an appetizer for Venom. It even features the actor that many of my friends tend to get mixed up with Tom Hardy (obviously these people don't watch enough movies). It feels like a similar dynamic. Man is fused with sentient being. Being provides superhuman abilities. Man must cope with abilities and the sentient being. And frankly, Upgrade nails it.
The entire film has a feeling of an early-to-mid-90s scifi actioner, with some fun action sequences and interesting ideas at the expense of substance. The "second chance guy out for revenge" is NOT a new concept in the slightest, and this movie breezes right through it. Sure, it reduces the impact the situation has on you as an audience, but that wasn't really what you were seeing this movie for anyways, right?
Logan does a fantastic job in the lead as he does a great job of letting his body do the work like a robot in a man's body. With distinct cinematography, particularly in the supremely-choreographed fight sequences, makes the film's fluff worth it. And the fault in the film lies almost entirely there.
The movie has too much fluff for what you came to see, especially when the fluff feels forced. It hurts the pacing and kills the momentum of its amazing fight sequences at times. Bash films like The Matrix and Inception for their exposition, but at least it is thought-provoking. Upgrade doesn't offer the unique traits of those movies to benefit from in-depth perspective on its technology and the drama of the revenge tale is too familiar to push you. So you want more action, and it feels short on this on several occasions.
I feel like after I see Venom I will end up comparing it to Upgrade, given the similarities, and I predict that Venom won't exceed Upgrade in every category. Upgrade did too well on some aspects and offered a very entertaining experience at a lack of campiness, at least campiness that wasn't intentional/self-aware. I don't necessarily recommend Upgrade for the theaters, but visually it was a good time and definitely worth a watch or two...or three...
Horror Qualifier: 6/10
Horror Quality: 3/10
Film Quality: 6/10