The Major is a cyborg made of titanium, but with a human soul (her "ghost"). She works in Section 9, an anti terrorism unit, which is also her family, as she remembers nothing from her previous life. When a dangerous hacker starts killing the members of Hanka, the corporation of artificial intelligence technology, the case quickly becomes personal for the Major as one of her makers is on the hit list. But in the world where everyone holds bionic parts, and can be hacked and manipulated, who can she really trust?
Original movie GHOST IN THE SHELL is a world phenomenon that has spawned a successful franchise, but also served as a topic for some philosophical dissertation. The animation by Mamoru Oshii that was an inspiration for the new film starring Scarlett Johansson, acquired a cult following and director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) had to play very safe, trying very hard to please everyone (old fans and new). Mostly it works.
The truly exciting thing about GHOST IN THE SHELL is the environment ( the same could also be said about the original animation). Digitally enhanced Hong Kong is breathtaking. The giant holograms invade the streets, the atmosphere is authentic, the rain and the moisture are so real you can feel them in the air (you can almost smell the boiling noodles on the side street). Some of the scenes are frame by frame recreated from the original. The battle in shallow waters, the diving, the tank duel - all look gorgeous. The broken glass spraying out of the screen, the water pouring out and the jellyfish flying just above your head - a 3D ticket on this occasion is really worth an extra buck.
Scarlett Johansson gives her all to the role, she does inhabit the spirit of Motoko Kisangani even with her European looks - fans should be pleased. The origin story of Motoko is a nice touch and does not contradict the original movie in any way.
Takeshi Kitano, as the boss of Section 9 boldly speaks Japanese all through the film , and why not? Language is no barrier for the nation where everyone's brains are wired with wi fi? His performance is a real gem and shows how clever the casting was, despite all the controversy of choosing Scarlett Johansson for the main role (originally her character is Japanese)
GHOST IN THE SHELL is an almost perfect remake of a cult animation. The only flaw of the film may be its straightforwardness, but it is not necessarily a bad thing. I have seen the original ten times or more and some questions still remain unanswered. GHOST IN THE SHELL was made with love, putting some bold ideas in place, and it's one of these films you can watch again and again, and still find something new and exciting.