Upgrade | Review

Upgrade | Review

A quadriplegic is offered the chance to walk again via a bionic chip implant. However, the chip holds surprises.

Having watched the two trailers earlier this year for the Australian science fiction film Upgrade, my interest was piqued, and I eagerly awaited to see the full film.

Before I go any further, if you plan on watching this film, please do not watch the more violent red band trailer for the film. It reveals many of the best moments and leaves few surprises.

Upgrade is set in the near future where technology is heavily integrated into our daily lives. In this world lives Grey Trace, a man who shuns this technology. He prefers the old ways and spends his days refurbishing old cars using more traditional hands-on methods.

One day when his wife Asha returns home from work, Grey asks her to help him deliver a car to one of his clients, Eron Keen, a famous tech innovator in charge of a company called Vessel.

While visiting Eron, he reveals his latest technical creation, a small computer chip called STEM. This new microcomputer revelation can be implanted into humans and serve as an auxiliary brain.

On the way home, travelling in Asha’s electronic smart car, it malfunctions and takes them to a seedier part of the city. The car crashes and Grey and Asha are pulled from the wreckage by a gang of four men.

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They kill Asha and paralyse Grey. He is forced to lie there and watch as his wife bleeds to death.

After months of hospital care, Grey returns home a paraplegic. Despite the help from in-house robotic arms and his own mother, Grey wishes to end it all and tries to commit suicide.

In the hospital once again, Grey is visited by Eron who convinces him to have the STEM chip implanted. STEM will bridge the gap between Grey’s brain and his limbs and allow him to walk again. However, this is all done in secrecy as the chip has not been approved by any medical governing body.

After the operation, Grey starts to walk and move yet again, but the chip holds more secrets than Eron was letting on.

Once a simple car mechanic, Grey can now do so much more!

To say anything else would be to spoil the rest of Upgrade which contains a thrilling revenge story with great comedy moments, action and some very intense moments of gore (which are spoiled by the red band trailer).

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Upgrade wouldn’t feel out of place in Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror universe with its tales of technology being pushed to the extreme. There are some interesting (or disturbing, depending on your point of view) characters who have enhanced their bodies with a variety of technical implants.

The action set pieces are very well choreographed and use great camera moves that I don’t recall seeing before. Whilst Grey is overconfident in his new abilities, there is a brilliant blend of both humour and action in the first few kinetic encounters.

Running for around 100 minutes, Upgrade never outstays it’s welcome and I enjoyed the film so much the time flew by.

There are strong performances all round especially from Logan Marshall-Green who plays Grey. Another mention must go to the leader of the gang who paralyses Grey, Fisk Branter, who is played brilliantly by Benedict Hardie. His cool, calm demeanour reminded in many ways of Agent Smith from The Matrix series of films.

Upgrade is a sci-fi, action, body horror film that is very much worth your time. Highly recommended.


Upgrade is a sci-fi, action, body horror film that is very much worth your time. Highly recommended.


John Abbitt

About the author | John Abbitt

@UKFilmNerd | John loves film, and he used to write for his own website, The Tydirium Hangar Bay, in the late 1990s. Whilst that website became lost in the passages of time, John's love of film did not. He's back, writing for The Unheard Nerd.

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