Cured Quadriplegic Crime Victim Seeks Revenge in Futuristic Sci-Fi Thriller
Mechanic Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) is a dying breed. He’s an old school, grease monkey who can roll up his sleeves and repair classic cars without the help of diagnostic computers.
One fateful day, he asks his wife Asha (Melanie Vallejo) to follow him in her car so he can return the Pontiac Firebird that he’s just finished working on to its owner, high-tech mogul Eron King (Harrison Gilbertson). The eccentric billionaire has a subterranean laboratory hidden just beneath the ocean shoreline. He proudly tells the Traces about his company’s latest invention, an implantable computer chip with a mind of its own.
On the way home, Asha’s self-driving sedan inexplicably-malfunctions and drives them to a seedy side of town where it crashes after careening around a corner. The couple is subsequently set upon by a sadistic gang that murders her and leaves him a quadriplegic.
When Eron learns of Grey’s misfortune, he offers the grieving widower an opportunity to walk again. All that’s involved is installing a tiny, talking computer circuit in his spinal cord called Stem (Simon Maiden). The only hitch is that having Stem inside is like sharing your body with another brain.
The operation successfully transforms Grey from a bed-ridden cripple into a superhuman vigilante capable of tracking down and exacting vengeance on his muggers in a bloody reign of terror. But, to get even with the creeps, he has to temporarily allow Stem to take charge.
The plot thickens when Stem seems to have a hidden agenda. Might this powerful entity be attempting to wrest total control of Grey’s body permanently? And towards what end?
That is the engaging premise of Upgrade, a riveting, revenge thriller written and directed by Leigh Whannell, creator of the Saw and Insidious horror flick series. As this timely film further unfolds, it magically morphs right in front of your eyes from a futuristic sci-fi into a thought-provoking, exploration of the hidden dangers of artificial intelligence.
A timely cautionary tale you don’t want to miss!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated R for profanity, graphic violence and grisly images
Running time: 95 minutes
Production Studios: BH Tilt / Goalpost Pictures / OTL Releasing
Distributor: Blumhouse Productions / Universal Pictures
Alt-Right: Age of Rage
Eye-Opening Documentary Chronicles Events Leading Up Charlottesville
The election of Donald Trump has ostensibly served to embolden Ku Klux Klansmen, neo-Nazis and the rest of the Alt-Right movement, and seems to have given these social outcasts hope of moving into the mainstream. In fact, the American Renaissance Conference, an annual gathering of white supremacists, was suddenly so popular that organizers had to shut down registration long before the event was staged last July.
It was clear to the participants that the new President Trump had sent out a signal that it’s perfectly fine to be a racist. And they showed up in droves, not bothering to hide their faces as they entered the venue, although there’s footage of one snarling, “Don’t record me, [N-word!]” at a black counter-demonstrator with a camera.
But from footage shot at that rally in Dickson, Tenn., you could already see trouble was brewing. For, there’s a chilling video clip of a neo-Nazi revving his engine as if he wanted to hit some protesters standing in the street. “You’re not running anyone over!” a female marcher yelled at him. This was just a month before the Charlottesville rally where Heather Heyer was struck and killed by a car driven by one of these hate-filled creeps.
Directed by Adam Bhala Lough, Alt-Right: Age of Rage is an eye-opening documentary chronicling the recent rise of the white supremacist movement since the Age of Trump. This fascinating film features interviews with both neo-Nazis and the intrepid activists determined to expose them.
Specifically, the director opted to focus most closely on Richard Spencer, the black genocide advocate who coined the term “Alt-Right,” and Daryle Lamont Jenkins, an African-American veteran of the U.S. military who fervently believes that “evil flourishes when good people do nothing.” For decades, Daryle has dedicated his life to monitoring people like Spencer, if only to inform their bosses and neighbors how they spend their free time.
You might be thinking, “Hey, why not just ignore these neo-Nazis, and maybe nobody will know about them in the absence of any media attention.” That tactic might have worked prior to the Digital Age, when recruitment transpires primarily over the internet.
The picture culminates with the confrontation in Charlottesville where all hell broke loose when the police inexplicably allowed armed white supremacists chanting “Jews will not replace us!” and other vile slogans to surround anti-Fascists in an area of Emancipation Park set aside for a counter-demonstration.
Overall, a sobering expose’ proving the President wrong when he suggests that there are both good and bad Nazis.
Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 104 minutes
Production Studios: Company 3
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing a Film Fun
For movies opening June 8, 2018
Hereditary (R for violence, profanity, disturbing images, drug use and brief frontal nudity) Haunted house horror flick revolving around a family that finds itself facing sinister forces following the death of its reclusive matriarch. Ensemble cast includes Toni Collette, Gabriel Byrne and Ann Dowd.
Hotel Artemis (R for violence, sexual references, pervasive profanity and brief drug usage) Futuristic sci-fi set in a riot-torn Los Angeles and revolving around a nurse (Jodie Foster) who runs a secret emergency room for criminals. With Sterling K. Brown, Jeff Goldblum, Charlie Day, Sofia Boutella and Dave Bautista.
Ocean’s 8 (PG-13 profanity, drug use and suggestive content) Distaff spinoff of the famed, crime caper franchise finds Danny Ocean’s estranged sister (Sandra Bullock) masterminding a $150 million-dollar jewel heist in New York City by an all-female gang. A-list cast includes Cate Blanchett, Anne Hathaway, Mindy Kaling, Olivia Munn, Rihanna, Dakota Fanning, Helena Bonham Carter, Katie Holmes, Serena Williams and Kim Kardashian.
INDEPENDENT & FOREIGN
Hearts Beat Loud (PG-13 for drug references and brief profanity) Musical drama, set in Brooklyn, about a widower (Nick Offerman) who starts a rock band with his teenage daughter (Kiersey Clemons) the summer before she’s supposed to start college in California. With Ted Danson, Toni Collette and Blythe Danner.
Maineland (Unrated) American Dream documentary about the enormous number of kids from China enrolling in private boarding schools all across America. (In Mandarin and English with subtitles.)
Nancy (Unrated) Suspense thriller about a pathological liar who tricks a couple (Steve Buscemi and J. Smith Cameron) into believing she’s their long-lost daughter kidnapped three decades earlier, only to become convinced of her own charade. With John Leguizamo, Ann Dowd and Marinda Anderson.
On the Seventh Day (Unrated) American Dream saga, set in Brooklyn, revolving around a group of undocumented Mexican immigrants who work long hours six days a week and play soccer on Sunday. Ensemble cast includes Fernando Cardona, Gilberto Jimenez and Abel Perez. (In Spanish with subtitles.)
The Quest of Alain Ducasse (Unrated) Culinary biopic chronicling the career of Alain Ducasse, the renowned French chef, teacher, consultant and proprietor of 23 of the world’s best restaurants located all around the globe. (In French, English, Japanese, Portuguese and Chinese with subtitles.)
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (PG-13 for profanity and mature themes) Reverential retrospective revisiting the life, philosophy and legacy of Fred Rogers (1928-2003), the nurturing host of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, the syndicated, TV series for preschoolers which ran on PBS for over three decades. Featuring appearances by his wife Joanne, Yo-Yo Ma and Joe Negri.
The Workers Cup (Unrated) Eye-opening documentary about the plight of the low-paid migrant workers from Africa and Asia building the stadiums for the 2022 World Cup Tournament in Qatar.
Zoo (PG-13 for action, profanity and mature themes) Fact-based World War II tale recounting the efforts of a 12-year-old boy (Art Parkinson) and his friends to save a baby elephant from bombing of Belfast by the Luftwaffe. With Toby Jones, Penelope Wilton and Art Parkinson.