Upgrade

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Loved. Along with Venom, this is a summer blockbuster where a man is violent because of something on his body he can’t control. Logan Marshall-Green plays Grey Trace (which is A. the most fake male protagonist character name in the world AND B. a weird mixture of the name of the role I know and love him from, TREY, Ryan’s older and troubled brother on The O.C.) is a house husband (I lovedddd that they never gave him a career) to the love of his life, Asha.

Asha works for a tech company making body parts for soldiers injured in combat-also we are in the future btw-and a lot of money. She has a car that drives itself and a lot of love for her husband. Grey (husband) loves working with his hands, fixing up cars and complaining about technology. They are a classic pair: hot smart girl and curmudgeonly old grandpa inside the body of a hot man.

Asha gets home from work and wants to sit down, order pizza and do more work, but Grey has to drop off a car to a rich client who lives under a rock (very literally) and he needs her to come with so she can drive him back. They go, meet the guy who is a blonde weird introvert genius who is building a cloud when we walk in. Asha knows who he is (something Keane–the imdb is listing people alphabetically right now which I hate, and I’m not gonna sift through) and gushes a lil. He is still weird but opens up and shows them his newest project, a little mechanical bug called Stem that can control anything. It’s a system? Who knows. Grey hates that, they leave.

While driving home, they decide to have sex in the car because it’s driving itself but suddenly realize the car isn’t going home, it’s going to New Crown, Grey’s old neighborhood and a Bad Part of Town. They try to stop the car but can’t and it crashes into a tented area for homeless people. Immediately, a bunch of dudes with masks and knives pull them from the car. Grey is immobilized on the ground and they murder his wife in front of him. No matter how far into the future you go, there will always be someone who murders your wife right in front of you! Very annoying.

He wakes up in the hospital, he is a quadriplegic now. There are mechanical arms installed in his smart home that are voice controlled and can do anything you want, also he has this motorized wheelchair that takes him wherever. His mom comes over and takes care of him, we see him have one breakdown. They go to the police station where the cop on the case is Cortez (Betty Gabriel, most commonly known as Georgina from Get Out–but PERHAPS soon to be known as Nari from Unfriended: Dark Web! Idk there was a trailer, she seems to be in everything right now. Anyway). Grey is frustrated by the lack of progress on the case and he yells a little.

He also decides he wants to kill himself and makes his mechanical arms OD him, but they don’t deliver the fatal dose and call the ambulance. He wakes up in the hospital and the blonde genius is there, skulking around in the corner with a surgical mask on. He tells him that the bug he made can make him walk again, etc. Grey doesn’t want to at first then is kind of emotionally manipulated into going through the procedure to implant the thing in him. He signs a confidentiality agreement and swears never to tell anyone.

It works, the thing (Stem) can talk to him and also help solve the case. It immediately identifies the dudes in the video and they go to the house of one. The guy comes back and starts attacking Grey. This is when he allows the implant to “take over” and it kills the dude in a really cool fight scene where we start learning the full extent of this thing and how it works.

I need to take an aside here for a minute and explain that I saw this movie on a Saturday at 4:30pm in a PACKED theatre, the kind that tries to curate an experience and a ticket is 16 dollars and you can order a steak while you’re watching (Moviepass bitch) and I was sharing a table with someone who ordered four chicken tacos and a root bear float (interesting!), only ate three of them, then LET THE WAITRESS TAKE THE OTHER ONE AND THROW IT AWAY. Which was of course, upsetting to me on every possible level. On the OTHER side of me, these two guys kept laughing at everything, and yes, some things were a little overly dramatic and funny (like when he can feel his arms and legs for the first time after the operation and they play this dramatic music and it’s a lot) but they were laughing at so many things it felt like they thought they were better than this movie which 1. Hello, you’re not and 2. It was so distracting and I hated them.

So he murders this man with a knife by splitting open his jaw on both sides, which looks very cool and gross. Ok, so to fast forward kinda, there’s a bunch of scenes of him using Stem to piece together clues to find all the people who were there who killed his wife, then Stem kills them and he relinquishes control of the body but also is disgusted and steps in when it gets too bloody.

The trail takes us to this guy who is really enhanced and can kill people with his sneezes (the bacteria weaponizes somehow? And attacks them from the inside?) and also has a gun in his arm. This was one of the coolest things in the movie, a lot of these dudes had surgical weapons enhancements and got guns put into their hands and they load the bullets into their arms and it’s really cool. (This and the thing going into the base of your spine and amping you up are both DIRECTLY pulled from two different episodes of Dark Angel, I know no one knows or cares, but it’s important for me to acknowledge). Also, I know the world is terrible especially with guns right now and the NRA is incarnated evil but I still really like fictional violence and this movie did it really well. ANOTHER note-this guy was really intense and dangerous but was also very tiny and had this blonde mustache, like if Mr. Anderson from The Matrix and Kip from Napoleon Dynamite had a baby together.

Um, so he kills that guy and ends up going back to the rich blonde guy house. The cop (Cortez) follows him and Stem tries to kill her. This is where Keane (the inventor person) spills the beans that the mastermind behind the whole thing, the person who killed his wife was….Stem!!! The thing in his head he thought was helping him catch the killer this whole time! The thing just needed a body without any technological enhancements to attach to and Grey fit the bill. So it made the car malfunction and paid people to sever his spine, and the wife dying thing was just kind of lagniappe.

Then we see Grey wake up in a hospital bed and he can use all his limbs and his wife is alive and she’s like, “You’ve been out for a few days” and they kiss but then we go back to the rich house with the cop on the ground and she’s like, “Where’s Grey?” and Stem is like, “I just needed his mind to break and he broke it. Now he’s exactly where he wants to be, in a better place” and it controls the body and kills her and walks out.

I am TELLING you–this is a summer/new era of the bad guys winning. That’s what’s been happening in so many movies I watch! Infinity War (sorry) and if you saw that horror movie Truth or Dare, and now this! We went darker with Christopher Nolan Batman and now as a culture we’re going one step beyond that where the good guys are allowed to lose in the end of anything!!! Watch out. I personally like it, I think it’s interesting and fun, and film positivity has reigned for too long. I like that a different narrative is now becoming an option. And no, not like there’s never been sad movies before but they always have to put some positive spin on the end, or like something to make the bad seem good like *closure* or *personal growth* or something and I like that it’s just fucked up now and people end the movie there.

I really liked this movie a lot, despite the situation I watched it in. 4.5/5 (gasp!) Things That Make Me Want To Rewatch The O.C., will masturbate again.

p.s. I looked him up and the director of this movie did the original Saw!!!! That’s why he gets gory psychological thrillers!

p.p.s. Was it a crime that they didn’t play Upgrade U by Beyoncé ONE time in the whole 95 minutes? Yes, definitely.

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