Also, it’s great to see veteran Japanese actor “Beat” Takeshi Kitano, who plays the head of Hanka with his usual no-nonsense gruffness, getting exposure to a non-art-house audience who may be unfamiliar with him.
Somehow, though, Ghost in the Shell doesn’t feel purely derivative – it’s updated Blade Runner’s oh-so-80s mix of rain, steam and neon into something more that feels more contemporary, with bright splashes of comic book-y color that nearly overwhelm the screen. And so, accusations of whitewashing aside, she seems the flawless actor to embody Major, the cyborg-human hybrid at the centre of the existential sci-fi action flick Ghost in the Shell. Not only did the makers of the movie and Paramount clearly whitewash, but they doubled down by showing in the movie that Major has the brain of a human who was once Japanese, and now sports the synthetic features of a pretty white woman.
Thanks to her cyborg status, Major is able to “deep dive” into the programming of a damaged robot in order to track down Kuze, but the experience seems to unlock some disturbing memories.
The villain, conspiracy and resolution of “Ghost in the Shell” are substantially different from the 1995 film.
In the original, the characters speak in casual terms, and drop expletives in ways that lighten the tone.
While some sequences are lifted directly from the original anime, the action is decent at best. And though it may not be as introspective or revolutionary as the ones that came before it, this Ghost In The Shell has just enough visually stunning moments to make it worth a trip to the cinema for you to decide for yourself. There are explosive action scenes involving cars, trucks, helicopters, and big guns.
On a minor side note, it was too bad they did not choose to stick with the San Miguel Pale Pilsen beer Major and Batou drank in the anime.
Major (Scarlett Johansson) has a major existential crisis in “Ghost in the Shell”. Some guessed this was because of persistent complaints about the main character in the live-action version of the popular Japanese manga being played by Marvel’s Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson, who is not East Asian. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen.
Meanwhile, Johansson’s casting as a white actor playing a “Japanese” character – something that attracted claims of “whitewashing” and inspired a petition as far back as 2015 – doesn’t jar as much as it might, thanks to the cosmopolitan nature of the film’s futuristic Asian metropolis (shot in Hong Kong but still clearly Japanese).
But she can’t stop Hanka honcho Cutter (Peter Ferdinando) from letting Major be put to work as a fearsome “weapon” for the Section 9 intelligence agency as it goes about its business of uncovering percolating plots and terrorist villainy.
If you wait around through the credits hoping for a Ghost in the Shell post-credits scene, you’re going to be disappointed.
As the Major and her colleague Batou seek out a mysterious super-hacker known here as Kuze, what passes for a story turns out to be relatively prosaic.
Meanwhile, Scarlett Johnasson presents us with a cyber-enhanced soldier who responds to the realisation that her identity has been stolen with cold and violent behaviour that’s too machine-like to be anything but alien to us.