Upgrade, the latest genre exercise from Blumhouse Productions delivers an exceptionally gory red band trailer in advance of its theatrical release in early June. The production company has been on quite a role lately with hits like Split, Happy Death Day, and the Academy Award-winning Get Out all being released in 2017. Though there isn’t another release from Jordan Peele on the docket for this year, the sci-fi revenge thriller Upgrade might just be a sleeper hit during the busy summer movie season.
The rare movie summer movie that’s not a sequel or based on a comic book, Upgrade takes place in the not-so-distant future, where Logan Marshall-Green’s Grey Trace (an early contender for best/most ridiculous character name in 2018), a self-described luddite, is given a chance for revenge thanks to the largesse of a tech genius and the computer chip that not only allows Grey to walk again, but, as the red band trailer so gleefully points out, turns him into an unstoppable killing machine.
The movie is written and directed by Leigh Whannell (Saw), and made a splash at SXSW earlier this year after audiences were teased with a sci-fi thriller that hid a very dark and bloody heart. Early word on the film is fairly positive, and hints at a potential hit for Whannell, whose last directorial effort was Insidious: Chapter 3 in 2015, which went on to pull in over $100M worldwide against a $10M budget. This time, though, Whannell is working with an original idea headed up by the charismatic Marshall-Green.
With its thread of tech-based revenge, the film reads like Death Wish meets RoboCop. And given the circumstances of the assault that turns Grey into a quadriplegic, Upgrade seems poised to be thought of as an AI-driven reboot of The Crow. But with its cheeky tone and the matter-of-fact line delivery of the Stem implant controlling Grey’s body, this revenge thriller is clearly going for a completely different, though no less dark, vibe.
Positioning the film during the summer movie season seems like a smart move, as its genre bonafides and hard R rating, might make it appealing counter programming since it will be positioned against films like Adrift with Shailene Woodley and Johnny Knoxville’s Action Point. Given how well Blumhouse’s releases have done recently, Upgrade might find itself cashing in on the good word of mouth surrounding the company’s other recent hits.
Upgrade is set for theatrical release on June 1, 2018/