Upgrade seemed to come and go on its cinematic release in 2018 before hitting the home entertainment realm with little fanfare. It sure passed me by and I would like to think that the film’s new re-release from Second Sight Films will see the it embraced by a whole new audience.
Writer-director Leigh Whannell’s film is an excellent cyberpunk thriller, which borrows elements from a slew of sources from the literary (Phillip K. Dick and William Gibson) to the cinematic (The Matrix, The Terminator, RoboCop, 2001: A Space Odyssey and all things David Cronenberg) to deliver a gritty and tangible neo-noir. It’s no surprise that Jason Blum‘s Blumhouse Productions is behind this little gem, it’s a shingle that likes to keep budgets low and quality high and they’ve helped Whannell give us a film which could happily sit alongside those VHS-era sci-fi classics mentioned above.
Set in the near future, Logan Marshall-Green (excellent) plays Grey Trace technological luddite who hates machines. However, when an attack leaves him paralysed and his wife dead, he embraces the opportunity to have a special chip called STEM implanted by cyber-billionaire Eron Keen (Harrison Gilbertson). However, STEM has a life of its own and Grey turns into an unstoppable vigilante with his sights set on tracking down his wife’s killers.
Leigh Whannell is best known as the writer of the Saw and Insidious film but he really impresses with this dark thriller. Upgrade is well plotted and exceptionally well paced with all the tech elements coming together to deliver a movie which feels very real in this age of CGI plasticity. I was particularly impressed by by the work done by composer Jed Palmer and cinematographer Stefan Duscio. I’m now very interested to see what Whannell does with his forthcoming reboot of The Invisible Man franchise.
Second Sight Films would seem to know that Upgrade is a cult-classic in the making and they’ve produced a blu-ray package accordingly. You get a commentary from the engaging Leigh Whannell plus in-depth interviews with Leigh Whannell; Producer Kylie Du Fresne; Cinematographer Stefan Duscio; Editor Andy Canny and Fight Choreographer Chris Weir. Normally that would be more than enough – but this set also comes with a nifty slipcase with artwork by Adam Stothard, a poster (with the Stothard art) and a 40 page book of essays from Jon Towlson and Scott Harrison.
This is one hell of a brilliant package.