Clad in a skin-tight, flesh-coloured bodysuit, Scarlett Johansson cuts a striking figure as she dives off skyscrapers and scraps with bad guys in sleek sci-fi thriller Ghost in the Shell, a live-action remake of the 1995 Japanese anime based on a cult Manga series.
She’s Major, a human-cyborg hybrid revived by robotics corporation Hanka after a terrible accident, her human brain (her ‘ghost’) kitted out with an enhanced synthetic body (her ‘shell’). Now she’s a warrior for the government’s Section 9 anti-terror unit, but when she goes into action against the mysterious hacker who is killing Hanka’s scientists, she comes to question her own memories and identity
Director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) borrows considerably from the 1995 original, copying some scenes shot for shot; and he owes a big debt to Blade Runner for the look of his film’s dystopian metropolis setting, with the giant floating holograms that drift between the city’s towers clearly inspired by the flying screens in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi classic.
Sanders’ movie is definitely not in Blade Runner’s league, its quasi-philosophical musings on what it means to be human more show than substance. But the action is a blast and Johansson is fabulous, once more channelling the otherworldly vibe she displayed so distinctively in such films as Lucy, Under the Skin and Her. And she gets great support from Borgen’s Pilou Asbæk (burly, loyal colleague Batou), Juliette Binoche (maternal scientist Dr Ouelet), and Japanese icon “Beat” Takeshi Kitano (Section 9’s foxy old-school boss).
Certificate 12A. Runtime 107 mins. Director Rupert Sanders
Ghost in the Shell available on Digital Download, and on Blu-ray & DVD from 7 August.