Upgrade (2018)

  • Gist: Near-future scifi story in which, after being paralyzed in an attack that also kills his wife, a man is implanted with a wee gizmo that gives him impressive abilities and droll commentary.
  • B-ness: Unusual blend of B-movie style and tone with sharp-looking sfx could have flubbed, but quality directing and acting pull it off smoothly. A great template for future movies about the future.
  • Script: Plain but free of cliche.
  • Originality: Nah, but who expects that in an action movie?
  • Symbolism: Nah, but who expects that in an action movie?
  • Logan Marshall-Green: Low-key lead brings believable balance of fierce scowls and startled incredulity, like any Everyman stumbling into a high-tech war of shadows. AND he’s the second South Carolina-born actor to lead a scifi action film this year, after Chadwick Boseman.
  • Paranoia: If you know anyone terrified of the Singularity, Robot Revolution, or intrusive government surveillance, trick them into seeing this film.
  • Action sequences: The film’s showpiece! Uses smart camera work and editing instead of brute computer power, ironically.

Conclusion: See it when you want watchable, entertaining violence with mild emotional engagement. Avoid it if you’re one of the people described under “Paranoia” above.