Episode 24: Upgrade

Leigh Whannell, the co creator of the ‘Saw’ franchise as well as the ‘Insidious’ films, is the director of this pulpy action sci fi that shares many of the beats of the Tom Hardy venom movie but for a fraction of the price.

We follow the character of Grey Trace, played by Logan Marshall-Green (Prometheous, Spiderman Homecoming), who is brutally attacked, and his wife murdered, leaving Grey  a quadraplegic. Eron Keen, a business tech tycoon and recent client of Grey’s, offers a second chance at life in the form of an experimental computer chip called ‘Stem.’ With the help of the artificial intelligence he regains the use of his limbs and begins the hunt for his wife’s killers.

Coming off the back of his directorial debut Whannell moves leaps and bounds ahead with this confident sci fi action film. In the past I’ve thought he was the weaker of the Saw creating duo, made of both James Wan and Whannell, but with this film he manages to surpass my expectations with a purely visceral blood fest. The horror roots shine in the brutally effective action sequences as he employs some creative camera work and staging to make the scenes completely engrossing.

Whannell keeps the pace at constant break neck as his main character moves quickly and efficiently through each thug.  Unfortunately the side characters are not nearly as well fleshed out enough for this film to really rank amongst the great genre films but with a premise that is reminiscent of the originl Terminator and Robocop there is enough fun to be had that this could be forgiven. The third act is also of note as Whannell manages to ensure the movie will stick with you long after the viewing experience has ended.

In a completely satisfying conclusion things are both wrapped up neatly whilst also set for a potential sequel. Should a sequel be green lit I would happily re enter the world Whannell  has created as there is so much more that could be explored. Long live STEM!

3.5 out of 5 birds from me – Jason

To listen to our in depth spoiler review subscribe to Nerds Before Birds Podcast on all good podcast apps.


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