Upgrade (2018) Review – The first Sci-Fi about brain implants

Year: 2018

GenreAction, Horror, Sci-Fi 

Length1h 40min

Premise: A technophobe acquires a multi-functional brain implant on his mission of revenge.


As a true Sci-Fi fanatic, I always give the strictest criticism to movies from this Genre. Not only because I believe that Science fiction actually helps technological evolution with its inspiring ideas and preconceptions, but because if something is done wrong in it, it hits back twice as much. The happenings in these films are not far from reality, at least considering time. So if something is poorly executed, it becomes horrific because in a Science fiction we all want to see things that may have happened or may happen in the future, but never things that are against common sense. (It may be ironic that there is no such thing as common sense in the guidebook of the universe but please forgive me this one).



So what about Upgrade? Let me start by mentioning some exceptional things about this movie. Correct me if I’m wrong, but as far as I know, this is the first movie that examines the possibility of human brain implants. An extremely intriguing topic that is so unexplored and new. Thanks to this flick, not anymore, because if Upgrade does something very well, it is making us realize what will be achievable one day with our smartphones surgically put in our heads. Considering that the main plot is a boring revenge story (not counting the interesting ending plot twist) I see this movie as a portfolio of the implant called Stem.



Almost everything is spot on regarding the chip except one annoying detail. How it’s designed. Someone tell me why does Stem look like a vintage microprocessor ripped out from a Commodore 64? I’m no doctor, nor a neurocybernetics expert, but there is no way that this thing has a biobattery. Jokes aside it looks ridiculous, almost anything would have worked better as a design. The built-in bio handguns featured in the movie suffer from the same problem. If we reach such an advanced technological state that people will build guns in their organism I’m sure as hell that those will not work with regular gun shells.



What about the characters? The dialogues and connection between Grey and Stem are incredibly written. This is the only true strength of the screenplay. Being a”technophobe”, Grey becomes one with the most advanced technological gadget, generating an interesting contrast that will make us excited till the very end. Somewhat metaphorical, Grey needs Stem for walking while Stem needs Grey as a host. Sadly though I almost feel that it is irrelevant to even mention the others from the flick. Grey’s wife is only there for legitimating a revenge. The police woman’s function would be to salt things up a bit I assume which didn’t really happen. The ingenious Eron is just one cliché-ass character with his weird look and cringey overacted gestures. Not to mention that we know almost nothing about the antagonists’ motives. How could we really despise or sympathize with someone if we can’t even work out some basic motives from the pointless happenings?



However lucky for this movie, people will not really care about the plot, only the visuals, and the technological ideas. Actually one of the few films where I thought that maybe this is how it should be.

The depressing world shown by Upgrade is a very believable utopia and a very important topic. Futuristic bionics will take over everything one day. Technology is the answer to a lot of problems. For example, disability of any kind. Its potential importance considering medicine and healthcare is undisputable but will it be used for militaristic purposes? We will see.

Similar Movies: Lucy (2014), Limitless (2011), Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Upgrade (2018)













  • Incredible visuals and atmosphere
  • Unique camera movement
  • Good fighting choreography
  • Important topic
  • Creative ending plot twist


  • Mostly poor acting (except from Logan Marshall-Green and Simon Maiden)
  • Cliché vendetta plot
  • Lazy writing from time to time
  • Technological errors, inaccuracies


"You're television incarnate, Diana: Indifferent to suffering; insensitive to joy."

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