With a symbiotic relationship at the core, and a lead actor who looks a hell of a lot like Tom Hardy, Upgrade is superficially very similar to Venom. Break it down though and it’s a different beast.
For starters, Venom didn’t seem sure what it wanted to be, whereas Upgrade is a short, sharp jab to the face. Saw writer Leigh Whanell doesn’t pull his punches in a cautionary tale that is far more focused than it’s bigger alien friend.
Quickly moving through the gears, Upgrade really puts it’s lead through the mill. It’s particularly violent, with AI STEM making Grey Trace’s body perform some pretty miraculous feats of aggression and movement. An early kill sets the tone and also made me wince. When STEM is in control, Grey moves in a very unique way; how Marshall-Green manages to keep a shocked expression whilst performing the sharp choreography is very impressive.
You’ll probably see the ending coming, but it’s power can’t be denied. Upgrade is a smooth and economical piece of action sci-fi.