I'm issuing a SPOILER ALERT for this review. While I am not going to reveal crucial plot twists, I am, however, going to discuss the tone of the film's ending. So, you've been warned.
Watching the new science fiction thriller Upgrade is like drinking a delicious milkshake then, when you are almost finished, discovering a dead roach at the bottom of the glass. Needless to say, that spoils the whole experience. I was enjoying Upgrade right up until its sharp turn to a nihilistic and ugly ending.
Again, it's the near future and a car mechanic, Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green), is paralyzed from the neck down by mysterious thugs right after they murder his wife, Asha (Melanie Vallejo). Enter brilliant but oddball scientist named Eron (Harrison Gilbertson) who restores Grey back to normal – plus a little extra – by implanting a chip into Grey's spine. The chip is called Stem, and in his head, Grey can hear it speak to him (voice of Simon Maiden). And thanks to Stem, Grey now has cat-like reflexes and expert fighting abilities. So, it's off to find his wife's killers and get revenge. However, a sly detective, Cortez (Betty Gabriel), becomes a frequent roadblock.
Upgrade is imaginative, has some clever action scenes, has a smart sense of humor, and an engaging lead performance by Marshall-Green. I was with the movie! It reminded me of cool 1980s science fiction action films like RoboCopand The Hidden.
Now, was I upset because the movie didn't give me a conventional, cookie-cutter happy ending? Not necessarily. What I really wanted was a satisfying ending and not the pointless, dour mess that I saw. I should have known, though, because the film is written and directed by Leigh Whannell, writer of Saw and Insidious. His formula is to always bend the story to a lousy, downbeat conclusion so I guess he can pat himself on the back for being all dark and nihilistic. Here, it doesn't work. It just pissed me off.