2018 brought with it one of the most entertaining cyberpunk action thrillers, Upgrade, written and directed by Leigh Whannell. This Logan Marshall-Green flick set in the future follows his character Grey Trace, a technophobe who gets a cybernetic implant that allows him to control his body after an incident leaves him paralysed. Grey, empowered with superhuman strength, seeks revenge to destroy the people who ruined his life. If you enjoyed watching this over-the-top cyberpunk thriller, then you should check out our list of movies like Upgrade. The use of science fiction combined with drama is incredible, and as a cyberpunk film, it does really well at presenting just how wonderful and terrifying the future can be. This Blumhouse production is gory and a true delight for viewers with an appetite for graphic violence and blood. But, the story packs a good punch with its tension and is a pure shot of adrenaline for sci-fi buffs.
List Of Movies Like Upgrade
1. Lucy (2014)
Lucy, a sci-fi action film follows a woman who after getting kidnapped, is made a drug mule when a psychedelic drug leaks inside her body system and is absorbed into her bloodstream. Following that, she attains psychokinetic abilities but it also slowly drains her of her human emotions, so she seeks out neurologist Samuel Norman who might just be her only way out.
Lucy and Grey give us very similar characters, where they get into an unfortunate situation, have their bodies infiltrated by foreign substances and are set on a ticking chase trying to save themselves. If you are looking for high tension and great action in movies like Upgrade, Lucy should make it to the top of your list.
2. Johnny Mnemonic (1995)
This 96-minute cyberpunk thriller follows John Wick star Keanu Reeves playing Johnny who must race against time to deliver a massive data chip inside his brain before it kills him. Johnny Mnemonic is a seriously underrated movie that portrays much of the cyberpunk theme that has been borrowed in so many other 90’s sci-fi movies.
The premise of the characters in both Johnny Mnemonic and Upgrade are definitely comparable, what with the cybernetic invasion inside their human bodies. Besides, you wouldn’t miss a Keanu Reeves stunner, if you are looking for cyberpunk movies similar to Upgrade.
Also Read: Movies like Prometheus
3. Blade Runner (1982)
Based on Philip K. Dick’s 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, this sci-fi action flick is set in a dystopian future in 2019 LA. Former blade runner Rick Deckard is forced out of retirement to pursue and terminate humanoids called “replicants” who have mutinied and now pose a threat to the earth. The conflict peaks as Deckard gets increasingly involved and starts questioning his own identity. It’s hardly a surprise that this classic won numerous BAFTAs, including Oscar nominations for Best Visual Effects in 1983. Blade Runner is one of the finest recommendations for anyone looking for movies similar to Upgrade.
4. The Matrix (1999)
Another mind-bending sci-fi action thriller from Keanu Reeves, takes the story into the cyber world of Matrix where Neo discovers that everything around him is a lie staged by cyber intelligence and he soon sets on a journey to stop this threat and escape the grid. The Matrix is one of the most popular sci-fi movies of all time and blew everyone’s minds with its unique special effects and interesting storyline. If you are looking for films like Upgrade, and haven’t already watched this classic, this is your sign to go for it.
5. Repo Men (2010)
Game of Thrones and House of the Dragon director Miguel Sapochnik brings us an action sci-fi thriller set in 2025 that follows Remy, a Repo man who is on a run after receiving an artificial heart. But when the tables turn and he finds himself a victim of the same crimes he was on the other side of, things get much harder to escape.
The presence of artificial intelligence taking over man, as a result of his misfortune seems a common theme. Remy and Grey, both make for characters that you root for, including the cutthroat tension that is well-paced throughout. If movies like Upgrade are intriguing to you, you are going to like Repo Men.
6. Dredd (2012)
Dredd, a futuristic dystopian film is an adaptation of the comic strip Judge Dredd. This movie centres around Mega City One, where the law lies in the hands of the police who are the judge, jury and executioner. A report of a terrible crime sends Judge Dredd and Cassandra to an extremely dangerous area to take down a gang that deals in Slo-Mo, a reality-altering drug. Dredd has an uncanny similarity in the tone and atmosphere with Upgrade, although Dredd is definitely gorier with its graphic violence. If you wanna watch sci-fi futuristic films like Upgrade, Dredd is the pick for you.
7. Ghost in the Shell (1995)
Based on the manga of the same name, this neo-noir cyberpunk animated film is set in 2029 Japan and follows Major Kusanagi who is on the hunt for a mysterious hacker Puppet Master. The movie poses several topics about what it really means to be human, which is an interesting approach to take.
While this recommendation might be slightly different, Ghost in the Shell does an awesome job at its futuristic world-building, while keeping it balanced with a relatable conflict point. Ghost in the Shell is an unlikely, but a solid choice for anyone looking for films or movies like Upgrade.
8. Total Recall (1990)
A sci-fi action film set in 2084, this is the story of Douglas Quaid, a construction worker who is implanted with the memory of a fantastical adventure on Mars. Soon things go awry as Quaid discovers that his life is a false memory and also in danger. This film also deals with cybernetic implants that take over the host body, leading to the driving conflict in the story. Set in an action-packed premise, this dystopian futuristic thriller sets just the right tone like Upgrade.
9. Alita: Battle Angel (2019)
Alita: Battle Angel is an amazing cyberpunk film based on Yukito Kishiro’s manga series Gunnm. Cyborg Alita, wakes up with no memory of her past, she sets out on a dangerous adventure to find out who she really is and what her purpose is. Check out more movies like Alita: Battle Angel.
What I really loved about Alita is how gripping the storyline is without compromising on the visuals that are CGI heavy. The characters as well as the action sequences were truly well-written. And for anyone interested in movies like Upgrade, Alita is a great pick.
10. CHAPPiE (2015)
CHAPPiE is a one-of-a-kind story set in a dystopian future where police forces are mechanised and the people are revolting against it. One lone droid named Chappie brings about new confusion as it develops the ability to think and feel for itself. When the authorities find out, they view him as a danger to mankind and vow to erase Chappie altogether.
Slumdog star Dev Patel stars in this fantastic movie about the growing conflict that is man vs cybernetic development. While this theme might seem similar to others, this movie presents it in a very unique direction. Chappie might not be as dark as other movies similar to Upgrade, but this one is definitely worth a watch.
Here are a few movies like Upgrade that didn’t make the list, but you can check them out nonetheless:
- The Machine