Beneath the glossy exterior there’s not much spirit to be found in this curate’s egg of a sci-fi action thriller.
A hard working Scarlett Johansson stands at the centre of the spectacular visuals, but even the Avengers star can’t bring the soulless storytelling to boil.
The story is based the acclaimed Japanese cyberpunk comic strip which was followed by a successful big screen animated version in 1995. They were a huge influence on The Matrix, which is why a lot of the ideas here seem very familiar.
This future version of Japan is a neon vision of eye popping CGI. The population pay for cybernetic enhancements to make themselves quicker, stronger, smarter, etc.
Johansson gives a nicely judged mechanical performance as a kick-ass military cyborg known as the Major. She’s a human brain in a synthetic body and possessed of unexplained powers of flight and invisibility.
Investigating the assassination of corporate suits, the Major discovers a secret about her past which causes her to question her mission.
Controversy was caused by the casting of Johansson in the lead role. Giving an Asian role to a caucasian actress has led to accusations of whitewashing.
But technically Johansson is playing a robot, and the film’s Chinese financiers don’t seem to have a problem with it. And anyway, it’s the least of the films problems.
Despite casting one of the worlds most desirable women and encasing her in a nude body suit, this is a remarkably sexless enterprise.
Plus the cardboard cutout characters are dwarfed by the locations and the drama is lost in the scrambled action sequences.
A flat script fails to explore the idea of identity, and the dull dialogue suffers from a severe humour malfunction.
And without love, poetry or anything else to give it humanity, the Ghost In The Shell offers very little of substance.