Ever see a film that continually treats the audience like children that have to be led by the hand through basic addition? That’s the case with Upgrade. The short and simple version of this review is this: saturating a screen with the trappings of a transhumanist, cyberpunk plot does not give the script the right to explain away massive plot holes while claiming “deus ex machina”.
Spoilers follow, but I’m honestly writing them for your own benefit. If some young, techie, multi-billionaire starts describing their new widget as having the potential to “make humanity better” (or some other flowery, utopian, nonsense), understand that this is likely lazy foreshadowing that the new tech will attempt to usurp its’ creator. Furthermore, what good is it to present a character as a senior Detective if they can’t even put together that someone proven to be in the area of a murder (multiple murders, in this case) is clearly hiding something? No matter how unlikely that suspect might be, it’s not too far of a reach to think that they would be involved in some way at that point.
Much of the plot reminded me of early childhood programming where the enthusiastic host would stand listlessly in the frame whilst one-sidedly pleading with the non-responsive audience to identify the “elephant in the room”. Except in this case, the enthusiastic host is the deadpan AI that only the paraplegic man with the “miracle implant” can hear, and the proverbial “elephant in the room” is the thinly veiled plot to make the user dependent on said AI to give it complete control.
There was a time not too long ago when I got excited to see Blumhouse release a new thriller. With rare exceptions, that nostalgia has faded to a realization of either my growing (if not pickier) tastes, or Blumhouse’s more laissez-faire vetting. Add this pulpy excuse for a “psychological thriller” to the slush pile.