Ryan Hodes’s review published on Letterboxd:
Really fucking dug this movie. The style, the action, the humor, the story, and the ridiculousness of it all. Right up my alley.
I did have a few issues with Upgrade, which I'll get out of the way first. The first 20 minutes of the film are pretty eh. The writing leaves much to be desired, and the main character's wife is really just there to serve the plot. I didn't feel any chemistry between Grey and his wife or any connection to her before she died. I think that if this sequence had been done better, I would have been more engrossed in the main character's revenge plot. Additionally, some of the characters didn't have much depth to them (I'm looking at you, Officer Cortez), and the dialogue faltered at times.
Anyyywaayyys, this film does a whole lot more right than it does wrong. Visually, Upgrade knocks it out of the park. For being a relatively low budget film, I was super impressed by the CGI and practical effects. The futuristic look is realistic but pretty fucking cool at the same time. The cinematography is on point, and the camera work during action scenes is a treat to the eyes.
Story-wise, Upgrade is just as strong. It might start as a simple hero-revenge story, but by god that ending will throw you for a loop. It's a total downer and exactly what the film needed. The twist was actually surprising, and felt like more than a twist just for the sake of a twist. It was meaningful and slammed home the message harder than Grey choke-slammed that one dude. Overall, Upgrade takes an idea that has been done a million times and does something fresh with it.
Some other things I loved about this film: The sound is top notch; both sound design of the action scenes and the music, which fuckin slaps. Logan Marshall-Green pulled out all the stops and made up for some of his co-stars' poor performances. He was emotional in all the right places, hilarious when the script called for it, and robotic when, well, a robot was controlling him. His character, Grey, had great chemistry with STEM, who was another strong point in the film.
Upgrade is a thrilling, witty, creative, and stylish take on a worn-out plot that will not only get your blood pumping, but your noggin thinking as well. If it wasn't ending its run in theaters, I might even go see it again.