Rupert Sanders’ take on the cult anime is both faithful and entertaining
Taking place in a futuristic dystopia where the line between biology and technology has all but vanished, Ghost in the Shell brings big-time thrills and stunning cinematography to the big screen.
The film, directed by Rupert Sanders, is an ode to the 90s Japanese anime of the same name, and stars Scarlett Johansson, Pilou Asbaek and Takeshi Kitano.
The movie revolves around Major Mira Killian (Johansson), a robot with the brain of a human saved from a terrorist attack. Though the robotic enhancement of human limbs and organs has existed in this world for several years, Major is the first complete cyborg—a weaponized human enhanced to be the perfect soldier. Her existence is the result of the cooperation between the Japanese government and Hanka Robotics, the world’s leading developer of augmentative technology.
Major’s purpose is to serve as the government’s special law enforcement agent in the hopes of overcoming terrorist plots. When someone starts killing Hanka’s executives, Major is instructed to find the perpetrator.
As she starts working on the case, Major uncovers compromising information about Hanka, as well as the truth of what happened to her human body. The film dwells on the moral complexities of fusing technology and human bodies.
The more she uncovers about her past, the more Major battles with existential questions and her place in society. She is neither fully human—shown by her inability to feel physical pain—nor fully robot.
When the creation of an American adaptation of Ghost in the Shell was first announced, both fans and critics were worried about the project, especially considering how white actors were cast for the leading roles, bringing on accusations of whitewashing. However, Sanders’ take on the beloved franchise has succeeded against all odds to be a faithful and entertaining adaptation of the original cult classic.
The movie is visually stunning, and every shot is framed with calculated expertise. The visuals are reminiscent of the anime’s futuristic style. The robotic components humans use to enhance their bodies look unsettling, resembling torture devices more than limbs.
There is a creepy tone maintained throughout the film, which leaves the viewer at the edge of their seat. The film explores themes of individuality, humanity and privacy through Major’s quest to find herself as well as the killer on the loose. Ghost in the Shell is a beautifully complex and haunting movie worth watching.