Ghost in the Shell | Kilburnlad | Film | Reviews


Ghost in the Shell

Ghost in the Shell

Amazon was offering a £1.99 rental on this film, which I missed at the cinema. In fact with a discount coupon it only cost me £0.99. So was it worth the money?

Originally a Japanese manga series the film is certainly futuristic with gigantic holographic images permeating the city. Cybernetic technology is mainstream and it seems that it is difficult to distinguish between completely 'real' people and those who have been enhanced to a greater or lesser degree using cybernetics. Scarlett Johansson plays Mira Killian, the ultimate cybernetic hybrid in that the only organic part of her is her brain. She is led to believe that she was rebuilt after her parents were killed in a cyberterrorist attack. Juliette Binoche plays Dr Ouelet, the designer who is responsible for Mira's development, and who is very protective of her. Dr Ouelet's boss, Hanka CEO Cutter, is however far less emotionally attached and thinks only of the business benefits that will flow from the project.

As a major in the anti-terrorist bureau Section 9, Mira is know simply as the Major. She receives orders from Chief Daisuke Aramaki, who speaks in Japanese (I assume) throughout, while Mira and everybody else reply in English. The anti-terrorist team intervene in an attack on a Hanka business conference where Mira destroys a mechanical geisha, after which she learns that the geisha had been hacked by an unknown entity, known as Kuze. In an attempt to track down this entity she breaks the rules and 'dives' into the geisha's AI. She has to be disconnected when the entity attempts a counter-hack, but she learns enough to set her on its trail.

The hack is eventually traced and the team encounter a number of people linked to a network. While there Mira is captured by Kuze, who tells her that she is not 'the first' of her kind, as she was led to believe, but that there were 98 test subjects before her, he being one of them. He encourages her to question her own memories, leading her to confront Dr Ouelet, who confirms what Kuze had said, and tells the Major that her memories were implanted, and are not real. Cutter decides that Mira has become a liability and tells Ouelet to terminate her, but she can't do it, and instead facilitates her escape, giving her an address to visit.

At this address Mira finds a widowed mother whose daughter, Motoko Kusanagi, ran away from home about a year previously and was arrested. She was told that her daughter had committed suicide in custody. Mira comes to realise that she could in fact be Motoko.

There is a final showdown with Cutter before Mira, or as she now knows herself to be, Motoko, returns to her mother.

Following on Lucy, and Under the Skin, Johansson is starting to build a reputation for this type of role. Here she certainly looks great in her body-clinging suit and fits the role nicely. But I never really got into this film. The graphics are great. The AI aspect is interesting insofar as it raises questions on how humankind will ultimately come to terms with increasingly advanced artificial intelligence, and exploit it. But for me the plot sort of plodded along, never quite exciting me. However, having said that, Johansson is, as always, extremely watchable.

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