Saturday, June 23, 2018

Not the story of a time-traveling pimp

One of my favorite jokes in a movie with a lot of them, Mike Judge's Idiocracy, is how the prostitute played by Maya Rudolph always fears the reprisals of a pimp named Upgrade -- even when she's spent 500 years in a cryogenic sleep.

He's actually not named Upgrade, technically. He's named Upgrayyed, as we learn once when we see his name in print.

When Luke Wilson's Joe tries to make her see reason by suggesting that the vengeful pimp would have died 450 years ago, Rudolph's Rita counters that Upgrayyed is determined enough to get what he wants that he would travel through time in order to come after her. Or something to that general effect.

Any time we hear the word "upgrade" -- because we almost never hear the word "upgrayyed" -- my wife and I will say it in Rudolph's voice. It never ceases to amuse us.

So you can imagine my disappointment when I went to the movie Upgrade on Thursday night and found it not to be the story of Rita's dogged pursuer.

In fact -- as you probably know since it's been out in the U.S. a lot longer -- Upgrade is about a man who is paralyzed in an attack that kills his wife, who gets an implant in his neck that not only allows him to walk, but to become a kind of killing machine in pursuit of vengeance.
For how much Upgrade is like other movies that have come before it in general concept, I was surprised by how original it actually felt.

See, the guy is kind of like an empty vessel when the thing in his neck -- which is called Stem, and which resembles a miniature version of a woman's hair clip -- takes control of his functions. And so a scene in which he's repeatedly smashing mugs and plates over the head of an assailant is pretty funny, as it allows actor Logan Marshall-Green to look on with horror while it's happening, unleashing comments like "Oh God" as his hands complete these actions.

It even has a bit of a clever twist at the end, though don't worry, this is not the type of movie where saying there's a twist is any surprise. It's directed by Leigh Whannell of Saw fame, after all.

The movie about the pimp would have been good too.

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