For all the criticism surrounding Ghost in the Shell — and there is plenty — the film pretty much accomplishes what it sets out to do. It’s a techie, visually alerting live-action take on the classic Japanese manga series, with kick-ass action star Scarlett Johansson, front and center.
The story revolves around the Major, a female cyborg living in a world where everyone can get enhanced robotic parts, if they want to. She, however, is the first of her kind — a fully formed, very skilled robot solider, who also happens to have a very human brain. The Major is part of an elite special forces unit, operated by Araimaki (Takeshi Kitano), whose job it is to track down mastermind criminals. When they are tasked to find out who is killing key scientists working for the top robotic company in town (and the ones who created the Major), a can of worms is opened up for the Major when she starts to uncover details to her mysterious past.
Ghost in the Shell received backlash, even before its release, with the casting of Johansson in a role that could have easily been played by an Asian actor. Calls of Hollywood whitewashing and whatnot dampened excitement about the film, while others accepted Johansson’s casting because of her global box office appeal.
Either way, the actress knows how to handle the action, even if Ghost in the Shell could have used more of it. The film did what it was supposed to do, in my opinion. Here’s my take, as I sip a little sake for the occasion.