Ghost in the Shell,
directed by Rupert Sanders
(Paramount, 2017)

I am not familiar with the source material for this film. I watched it because Scarlett Johansson is a good actress, and the trailers looked stylish and intriguing.

I came away with the vague sense that I had just wasted nearly two hours of my day.

No complaints about Johansson's performance, which is mostly monochromatic but seems to suit the character -- a human brain, lacking memories, implanted in a cybernetic body and given license to kick ass. For the lingering adolescent male in me, I can't complain about her wardrobe, which mostly consists of extremely tight, flesh-colored bodysuits.

But the story never really hooked me. Set in a world that is strongly reminiscent of the original Blade Runner, the script plods along with a lot of well-choreographed but mostly pointless violence. Johansson is Major, the first successful prototype of her kind who is used to dispense justice for some sort of shadowy government agency; the specifics are never made clear, but they seem to have blanket approval to initiate gunfights in crowded areas. Meanwhile, her manufacturer -- who is trying to make more like her -- is under attack by someone with a grudge.

And Major is plagued with the idea that, before she became Pinocchio, she was already a real girl, with real memories and emotions and, maybe, a family. And maybe she didn't become a robot entirely willingly.

Ghost in the Shell is a movie that looks cool and will sate most viewers' appetite for CGI combat and Scarlett Johansson's good looks. The story will probably leave you hungry, however -- unless you're already a fan of the GitS library and are more likely to understand what's going on.

review by
Tom Knapp

9 September 2017

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