Short, sharp and shock­ing

The Galloway News - - THE WEEKEND TICKET -

Leigh Whan­nell is best known as the man who in­tro­duced the world to the Saw and In­sid­i­ous fran­chises – pen­ning the first three of the for­mer’s in­stal­ments and all of the lat­ter’s, while also di­rect­ing the third In­sid­i­ous flick.

He’s a writer-direc­tor firmly en­trenched in hor­ror but while there are el­e­ments of the genre within his sec­ond out­ing be­hind the cam­era, Upgrade veers more into sci-fi thriller territory.

Set in the “near fu­ture”, Lo­gan Mar­shal­lGreen stars as Grey, a techno­phobe who is forced to turn to an ex­per­i­men­tal com­puter pro­ce­dure called Stem when a trau­matic in­ci­dent leaves him wheelchair-bound.

What fol­lows is a fas­ci­nat­ing, clever cin­e­matic ex­pe­ri­ence that takes sim­i­lar ideas pre­sented else­where and gives them a fresh twist.

Just when you think you’ve got it pegged as a Death Wish-style re­venger with a tech­no­log­i­cal edge, Whan­nell’s script veers off into un­ex­pected paths.

It’s dif­fi­cult to go into too much de­tail about what makes Upgrade work so well with­out en­ter­ing spoiler territory, but rest as­sured you’ll have a lot of fun watch­ing it.

Ever since be­ing wowed by Mar­shall-Green in ex­cel­lent 2015 psy­cho­log­i­cal thriller-drama The In­vi­ta­tion, I’ve been await­ing his big-time break; but while he briefly popped up in Spi­derMan: Home­com­ing – and prior to The In­vi­ta­tion was part of Prometheus’ en­sem­ble – this is his first real crack at lead­ing man sta­tus.

And boy, has Whan­nell given him plenty to work with; out­stand­ing phys­i­cal­ity sees Grey chan­nel Ja­son Bourne, The Ma­trix’s Neo and Robo­cop, and Mar­shall-Green also han­dles the emo­tional side of things ex­pertly.

Fol­low­ing his in­va­sive pro­ce­dure – which is clas­sic, Cro­nen­berg-like body hor­ror – Grey has no con­trol over his limbs and lit­er­ally hears voices in his head; in turns ter­ri­fy­ing and ex­cit­ing for his cru­sade for revenge.

Si­mon Maiden (The Dress­maker) lends his dul­cet tones to Stem who be­comes a liv­ing en­tity within Grey; it’s a creep­ily calm vo­cal per­for­mance.

Whan­nell is ob­vi­ously no stranger to gore and there are sev­eral strik­ing bursts of vi­o­lence, with the Aus­tralian also us­ing hy­per­ac­tive, rapid-fire cam­era shots when Grey un­veils his own brand of jus­tice – whether he likes it or not.

The fu­ture set­ting isn’t a mil­lion miles away from the world we cur­rently live in, save for driver-free cars and more drones than we’re used to see­ing in the skies... oh, and guns forged within limbs!

The script plays on the work­ing man’s fear of tech­nol­ogy putting peo­ple out of a job and the lengths you would go to turn your life back around.

A ma­ture end­ing rounds things off in sur­pris­ing fash­ion and is a fit­ting cli­max to a short, sharp and shock­ing flick that es­tab­lishes Whan­nell as no one-trick hor­ror pony.

Test­ing time Grey and wife Asha (Me­lanie Vallejo) in Upgrade

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.