Upgrade

Upgrade

2018, R, 95 min. Directed by Leigh Whannell. Starring Logan Marshall-Green, Simon Maiden, Betty Gabriel, Michael M. Foster, Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie, Melanie Vallejo.

REVIEWED By Matthew Monagle, Fri., June 1, 2018

You know transhumanism is having a moment in popular culture when it gets its own midnight movie. While shows like Black Mirror and Altered Carbon strive to give visions of our bioengineered future an intellectual sheen, Upgrade, the latest film from the Blumhouse horror factory (through their bleeding edge BH Tilt imprint), wants little more than to wind up a second-tier action star and let him punch some faces. Not that there’s anything wrong with that; in fact, it’s nice to discover that the praise for Upgrade coming out of this year’s SXSW festival was more than just a blend of good beer and late-night screenings.

In a world where everything from people to houses are fully integrated with artificial intelligence, Grey Trace (Marshall-Green) is an unapologetic anachronism who scratches out a living repairing muscle cars for the billionaire owner of a technology start-up (Gilbertson). The most important thing in his life is his wife Asha (Vallejo), at least right up until the moment she’s shot in the head by a group of anonymous mercenaries who leave Trace paralyzed and without any clues to their motive. This is when Trace’s employer approaches him with a proposition: Allow an experimental biochip named Stemto be inserted into his spinal cord and Trace will be free to walk once again, albeit with an unexpected AI copilot (voiced by Maiden) in his head who thinks Trace should be the one to track down his wife’s killers.

Written and directed by Leigh Whannell (of Saw and Insidious fame), it should come as no surprise to genre fans that Upgrade aspires to be just smart enough to justify its pulpy bits. Those looking for some techno-horror will be pleased with the film’s creative blend of futurism and violence; who in their right mind could pass on the promise of cybernetic mercenaries with shotguns embedded into their arms, and nanoviruses swimming within their saliva? Beyond that, Upgrade is a welcome excuse to put Marshall-Green through some delightfully complex fight choreography. When Stem relegates its host to the role of passenger in his own body, Upgrade achieves a kind of Drunken Master-esque physical poetry as a terrified Trace babbles his way through one brutally violent takedown after another. Don’t be surprised if the film’s first fight scene ends up a fan favorite at the end of the year.

And the kicker? Upgrade has the ending of a much smarter movie, wrapping its narrative up in a surprising bit of technological nihilism that will undoubtedly reward audiences with a second viewing. Marshall-Green has been subjected to more than a few jokes in the past month as the other mumbling bearded actor to feature in a genre movie about symbiosis, but Upgrade sets a surprisingly high bar for Tom Hardy and company to cross. It knows what it is, it knows what it isn’t, and it plays to its strengths remarkably well.


For an interview with Leigh Whannell, read "Leigh Whannell Gets an Upgrade," May 31.

Showtimes

Mon., June 18

11:00am, 2:15, 5:45, 8:35, 11:30

Tue., June 19

2:15, 5:45, 8:35, 11:30
AFA 11:00am

Wed., June 20

10:20am, 2:00, 5:45, 8:35, 11:30

Mon., June 18

12:40, 3:35, 7:00, 9:55

Tue., June 19

3:20, 6:55, 9:40
AFA 12:55

Wed., June 20

12:55, 3:20, 7:05, 9:50

Barton Creek Square (AMC)

2901 South Capital of Texas Hwy, 512/306-1991, www.amctheatres.com

Matinee discounts available before 4pm daily. Bring Your Baby matinees the first Tuesday of every month.

Mon., June 18

CC/DVS 4:30, 5:30, 7:40, 8:15
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 4:30, 5:30, 7:40, 8:15

Tue., June 19

CC/DVS 4:30, 5:30, 7:40, 8:15
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 4:30, 5:30, 7:40, 8:15

Wed., June 20

CC/DVS 4:30, 5:30, 7:40, 8:15
CC/DVS, recliners, reserved seating 4:30, 5:30, 7:40, 8:15

Cinemark 20 and XD

N. I-35 & FM 1825, 512/989-8535

Cost for 3-D and XD shows is regular ticket price plus a premium.

Mon., June 18

digital 11:35am, 2:20, 5:05, 7:50, 10:45
digital, luxury lounger 11:35am, 2:20, 5:05, 7:50, 10:45

Tue., June 19

digital 11:35am, 2:20, 5:05, 7:50, 10:45
digital, luxury lounger 11:35am, 2:20, 5:05, 7:50, 10:45

Wed., June 20

digital 10:25am, 4:15, 10:25
digital, luxury lounger 10:25am, 4:15, 10:25

Cinemark Cedar Park

1335 E. Whitestone, Cedar Park, 800/326-3264

Call theatre for complete list of movies and showtimes.

Mon., June 18

digital 4:10, 10:00
digital, luxury lounger 4:10, 10:00

Tue., June 19

digital 10:40
digital, luxury lounger 10:40

Wed., June 20

digital 4:10, 10:10
digital, luxury lounger 4:10, 10:10

Mon., June 18

digital 12:55, 6:45
digital, luxury lounger 12:55, 6:45

Tue., June 19

digital 12:55, 6:45
digital, luxury lounger 12:55, 6:45

Wed., June 20

digital 4:20
digital, luxury lounger 4:20

Cinemark Round Rock

4401 N. I-35, Round Rock, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium. Call theatre for complete March 26-28 showtimes.

Mon., June 18

digital 10:50am, 1:30, 4:15, 7:05, 9:50

Tue., June 19

digital 1:35, 4:30
digital, luxury lounger 1:35, 4:30

Wed., June 20

digital 10:50am, 1:30, 4:15, 7:05, 9:50

Cinemark Southpark Meadows

9900 S. I-35, 800/326-3264

Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., June 18

digital 9:30am
digital, luxury lounger 9:30am

Tue., June 19

digital 9:30am
digital, luxury lounger 9:30am

Wed., June 20

digital 9:30am
digital, luxury lounger 9:30am

Galaxy Highland 10

6700 Middle Fiskville, 512/467-7305, www.galaxytheatres.com

No one under 18 will be allowed in the theatre on Friday or Saturday after 7pm without an adult.

Mon., June 18

ClosedCapDescListenHI 9:50

Tue., June 19

ClosedCapDescListenHI 9:50

Wed., June 20

ClosedCapDescListenHI 9:50

Gateway Theatre

9700 Stonelake, 512/416-5700

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., June 18

CC/DVS 11:40am, 2:10, 4:40, 7:25, 10:20

Tue., June 19

CC/DVS 11:40am, 2:10, 4:40, 7:25, 10:20

Wed., June 20

CC/DVS 11:40am, 2:10, 4:40, 7:25, 10:20

Metropolitan

901 Little Texas, 512/447-0101

Discounts daily before 6pm. Cost for 3-D shows is regular ticket price plus a $3.50 premium.

Mon., June 18

CC/DVS 10:40

Tue., June 19

CC/DVS 10:40

Wed., June 20

CC/DVS 10:40

Thu., June 21

CC/DVS 10:40

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READ MORE
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Leigh Whannell Gets an <i>Upgrade</i>
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KEYWORDS FOR THIS FILM

Upgrade, Leigh Whannell, Logan Marshall-Green, Simon Maiden, Betty Gabriel, Michael M. Foster, Harrison Gilbertson, Benedict Hardie, Melanie Vallejo

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