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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Road Rage Meets New Age

Upgrade (2018) on IMDb

Plot Overview

A vinyl record blasts out The Yardbirds, “Smokestack Lightning” in a cluttered garage as mechanic Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) lovingly restores a 1970s muscle car (“Vrooom!”) His sure touch reminds me of some­thing from an Anthony Horowitz novel: “You should never think of a car as a piece of metal. It's a living being with a heart that beats. It can feel happy or sad. It all depends on how you treat it” (46).

Grey shanghais his techno-savvy wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo) to drive with him to deliver the Fire­bird to his client Eron King (Harrison Gilbertson.) He needs to use her wheels to get back home as he doesn't know how to drive a self-driving car. Three months later, due to the auto-auto wrecking in New Crown, a bad part of town, he's a quadri­plegic dependent on his mom Pamela (Linda Cropper) and his smart apartment (“These machines they installed pretty much do every­thing for me.”)

Eron the brilliant CEO of Cobalt Industries induces Grey to accept a secret trial of Stem, a micro­chip that will reconnect his brain to his spinal cord. Stem (voice of Simon Maiden) secretly plots with Grey to avenge the death of his wife on their muggers. Detective Cortez (Betty Gabriel) is finding it puzzling that the quadri­plegic keeps showing up in the video surveillance of the environs of the brutal deaths of the mugging suspects, and in one case even his wheel chair.

Said Eron, “Never before has a biomechanical fusion been asked to do so much.” That's more than Horowitz, “I spent three months working in a side­show. I was ‘Olga the head­less girl.’ Did you see it? I had to sit there with my head hidden behind mirrors and with all these tubes running out of my neck and the show­man would step out: ‘You've all heard of artificial hearts and artificial lungs. Now here's a girl with the artificial head.’ I used to quite enjoy it, sitting there, taking off my gloves and crossing my legs. I could hear all the people gasping in horror” (195).

Say, you get a new crown on your tooth. You're still you only augmented. But with the closing of the tooth gap, you end up marrying a prettier gal than you would have other­wise. Your now hand­some face stands you in good stead in a job interview and you get a better job. As in Horowitz, “a sales­man who had sworn that he would get forty miles to the gallon and speeds of up to fifty miles per hour too. Of course, he had been lying … with the perfect teeth and the friendly smile of every small-town hustler” (1). You eat a better diet and live longer. Is this the crown's life? No, it's your life. You are bigger than the crown. The chip is similarly small, but in this case we are not so sure. Not by the end of the movie.


In this short 1½ hour film, there is a cluster of incidents that correspond to a four-part proverb. Only one portion of it is of real significance here, but the other three serve as place holders. (Prov. 30:21-23) “For three things the earth is disquieted, and for four which it cannot bear: For a servant when he reigneth; and a fool when he is filled with meat; For an odious woman when she is married; and an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.” “A fool when he is filled with meat” would be Grey not wearing his seat belt, resulting in his being incapacitated in an accident and unable to defend him­self from a mugging. Now he's stuck in a wheel­chair and a machine makes him a protein shake. Some­how that is not what life should be all about.

“For an odious woman when she is married.” Asha gets spooked when her window screen fades and Grey's face is right there. She has to mollify her robot voice minder Clair, telling it, “My husband scared me.”

“And an handmaid that is heir to her mistress.” That's letting the economic sphere impinge on the family-domestic. Turns out in this twisted tale that Asha was reduced to “a job.”

That leaves the part that was built upon, “For a servant when he reigneth.” The uppity AI, a technology that was put in place to serve its human, wanted to take full control of the human's body. This movie is a cautionary tale about what can happen if there isn't sufficient over­sight on intelligent technology.

“I am Stem, the system operating your body for you.” It was one wicked looking chip. Micro­circuits are very tiny but are mounted on a substrate to dissipate heat. Leads of fine wires connect to it pins mounted on a device body that can be inserted into an electronic circuit. Its body is standard black. Here the pins are positioned like a wave making it resemble a centipede. Black is a color with negative connotations. When manipu­lating Grey to savage some­one, it can be taken as black violence.

We hear today of workshops convened to dispel unconscious bias. I'm not sure if there even is such a thing—if it's unconscious, how would one know? All I'm saying as a reviewer is that here the 'black' is buried in the recipient's flesh … along with all the other Negroid features that provoke fear and bias. Instead of kinky hair, there's rats nests of wires. The embedded long guns in the arms would correspond to phallic symbols. The upgraded human has fearful athletic prowess. Rather than cooties the upgraded humans can breathe out a deadly nanobot mist. If we do as a society hold unconscious fears and biases along these lines, then they would add to the horror of this film.

In a future happy world without these biases, the movie would seem much tamer. In the future depicted in the movie, there seems to be no overt dis­crim­in­ation. A negress holds a high position in the police depart­ment. The criminal gang is integrated. Handicapped people aren't profiled; they can become suspects of violent crimes. A home­less camp is allowed to exist in the open in the middle of the day. A husband is accepting of his wife “wearing the pants in the family” holding a high-tech lucrative job while he “plays with cars all day.” Hidden race biases might be a different matter, though. A man jack's inner nigger is kept well in the closet.

Production Values

This horror movie, “” was directed by Leigh Whannell. who also wrote its screen­play. It stars Logan Marshall-Green, Richard Anastasios, and Rosco Campbell. The lead carried most of the weight and he did very well. The other actors filled out their parts adequately in a sci-fi movie heavy on effects. Dead­pan line delivery in places moved it into the comedy sphere.

MPAA rated it R for strong violence, grisly images, and language. It was filmed at Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. The cinema­tog­raphy is superb, although I'm not sure what to make of the editing. Suffice it to say it was shot down under. The techno-fight scenes are awesome. Jed Palmer's music helped set the mood.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This one was different but it worked okay. The suspense kept me glued to the screen. If you're tired of repetitive Holly­wood fare, give this one a view.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-packed. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Absolutely amazing special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture is taken from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software, print.

Horowitz, Anthony. Trigger Mortis. New York: HarperCollins Pub., 2015. Print.