Overlooked 2018 Action Finally Getting a Praise It Deserves – on Netflix

Overlooked 2018 Action Finally Getting a Praise It Deserves – on Netflix
Image credit: Blumhouse Productions

The excellent cyberpunk thriller is one of Netflix's hidden gems.


  • In May, a new movie was added to the Netflix library.
  • It's a sci-fi action movie with thriller elements, released in 2018.
  • Despite its modest performance at the time of its release, the movie has now gained popularity on the streaming service.

Even with quality stories and strong performances, not all the Netflix properties have achieved significant commercial and critical success. But it is the surfing of Netflix's offerings that is exciting, because in this way real hidden gems are rescued from the abyss of oblivion.

Thus, in early May 2024, the streaming service was replenished with a sci-fi action film, which was released in 2018. Despite warm reviews, the movie went largely unnoticed. However, now that it's available on Netflix, viewers have embraced it with great enthusiasm, placing it in the Global Top 10.

What Is This Movie About?

We're talking about the movie Upgrade, directed and written by Leigh Whannell. You may know him from his collaborations with James Wan, with whom they created the Saw and Insidious franchises. But despite Whannell's huge contributions to pop culture, his personal project, which came out in 2018, received little attention.

And that's a bummer, as the movie is sure to appeal to action fans, thriller fans, and fans of the sci-fi genre and its cyberpunk subgenre. The plot follows auto mechanic Grey (Logan Marshall-Green) in the year 2046, who is confined to a wheelchair after a car accident and the death of his wife. He is helped by an acquaintance who has developed a technology that can improve his motor functions.

When the protagonist is implanted with a new chip, it begins to show signs of autonomy and even consciousness, which helps Grey get revenge on the perpetrators of the accident. Little does Grey know that there may be a much more sinister conspiracy behind what happened, and that his chip may have an agenda of its own.

What Are Critics and Audiences Saying about the Film?

On Rotten Tomatoes Upgrade has an impressive 88% rating from both critics and audiences — a rare instance of consensus. It proves to be an engaging sci-fi action thriller that doesn't try to be too pretentious. Its plot is uncomplicated, yet there is more than enough to give the viewer an incredibly emotional and intense ride. It's a great revenge thriller with action-packed scenes and surprisingly deep thoughts.

The ideas in it are certainly not innovative, as the themes of invasion of our consciousness and rebellious AI have been explored from the late 1970s to the present, from William Gibson's novels to the movie Ex Machina to the latest video games. In the context of Neuralink's current developments, however, the issue is more acute than ever, as this is a technology that could potentially be used for selfish purposes.

Forgotten Cyberpunk Movie Gets Second Life on Netflix

Unfortunately, at the time of its release, despite positive reviews from critics, Upgrade went virtually unnoticed except by SXSW attendees, film critics and fans of independent cinema. But as we said, that's the beauty of Netflix, how its users are able to breathe new life into a forgotten but worthy project.

So, according to the service, when it was released for streaming during the week of May 13-19, 2024, Upgrade made its way into the top 10 worldwide at number six and the top 10 in the US at number four. It was bested by Shrek, now in its tenth week as a subscriber favorite, Mark Waters' new romcom Mother of the Bride, and Sony's failed Madame Web, which is so bad it's actually good, as evidenced by its ratings on Netflix.

However, given the film's relative popularity and the fact that the service's original projects (and Madame Web) overshadow all other new releases, the indicators were pretty good. In other words, audiences were very happy with the co-creator of Saw and Insidious.