Warning: This review may contain some mild spoilers.
In the near future, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: a human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.
When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people’s minds and control them, Major is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. She will stop at nothing to recover her past, find out who did this to her, and stop them before they do it to others. It is based on the internationally acclaimed Japanese Manga, The Ghost in the Shell.
Major was built for a reason, but she feels that she is more than just a weapon. Throughout the movie, she experiences “glitches” that are suppressed memories that her designer, Dr. Quelet, tries to keep suppressed with medication. She has trouble remembering her past, only seeing brief glimpses and flashes of what she thinks was her past. The threat that is invading Hanka Robotics and Major’s team, Section 9, is a hacker by the name of Kuze.
When Major is able to secure his location and find him, we find out that he was a test subject of Hanka’s, but was considered a failure and a freak due to his deformed outcome. Major then goes to Dr. Quelet to be told that there were 98 failed experiments before her, as she became the first successful one. Before the order to be terminated, Dr. Quelet gives Major her an address so that she can find the answers for herself.
I have not seen the original Japanese anime, but now I really want to see the original. I was really impressed with everything. The live action delves even deeper into the story lines to create a fantastic action sci-fi that is both intellectually and visually stunning. I was amazed by how they call her brain/mind her “ghost” and her body was the “shell.” It definitely grabs my attention to see the movie because of how the title correlates with identification.
Despite the controversy on whitewashing, Scarlett Johansson delivered with her performance as “Major.” The Major in the anime was in a white looking cybernetic body even though she had a Japanese name. The creator of Ghost in the Shell has come forward to say that both Scarlett Johansson’s casting and her acting abilities impressed him. I thought she deserved this role because she worked hard and studied the original movie closely to mirror Major’s mannerisms and behavior. Major kind of reminded me a little of Black Widow from The Avengers.
I was in awe by the cast’s performance, but also by the visual effects that made you feel like you were there. There also was an inter-language barrier break without restraint so you still had that “original” feeling if you have seen the anime. The storyline and plot kept me tuned in and focused throughout the film. It has a lot of amazing action sequences, both in slow motion and high speed, that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
What got me more into the movie was Major’s identity and how her discovery of who she was and still is helped her mature into who she is meant to be in the world. Major’s quote in the end of the movie is what got me: “We cling to our memories as if they define us. But it’s what we do that defines us.” Because she had troubling remembering her past, she had difficulty knowing who she was. But she learns at the end of the movie, it’s what she does that will define her as the person she’s going to become. Her ghost still lives on in her shell.
This mind-blowing, heart-pounding thriller is definitely worth seeing.