Friday, 31 March 2017

Movie review: Ghost in the Shell, dir Rupert Sanders (2017)

The main character, Major (Scarlett Johansson) is a transhuman law enforcement android capable of tremendous feats of physical violence. This is a violent movie. Early in the piece, several senior figures in the company Hanka Robotocs - a government supplier that built Major - are targeted, and Major has to find out who is doing the devilry. She narrows the field down to one - Kuze (Michael Pitt) - who turns out to be a transhuman himself.

The plot turns on issues of identity. Hanka had told Major that her brain had been recovered from a person caught up in an accident but the story turns out to be untrue. In the process of unraveling the truth, people are hurt and killed including Major's fighting sidekick Batou (Pilou Asbaek) and scientist Dr Ouelet (Juliet Binoche). The stakes are high. And behind Major operates an outfit headed by Aaramaki (Takeshi Kitano) who reports to the prime minister and who has some independence from the company. In charge of the company is the shadowy Cutter (Peter Ferdinando).

As Major narrows in on the real identity and motivation of Kuze people are hurt, as we have seen. But the story becomes more complex and interesting. The relationship between Kuze and Hanka becomes clearer as the action moves toward the final battle between Major and the spider tank. Hanka is producing many lethal weapons for the government, it turns out, and not all of them were developed following ethical guidelines. This is a story where capital has a lot of answers to give to a lot of questions, which is not an unusual trope. But the problems of the plot are handled dexterously. In the centre of the maelstrom is the relationship between Major and Hairi (Kaori Momoi), who turns out to have a special relationship to our heroine.

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