In the near future, Major Motoko Kusanagi (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible terrorist attack, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world's most dangerous criminals.
When terrorism reaches a new level that includes the ability to hack into people's minds and control them, Major Kusanagi is uniquely qualified to stop it. As she prepares to face a new enemy, Major Kusanagi discovers that she has been lied to: her life was not saved, it was stolen. She will stop at nothing to recover her past, find out who did this to her and stop them before they do it to others.
There is much to admire about Ghost in the Shell. The world Major inhabits is visually stunning and full of tech. In this near future adverts are everywhere, people walk surrounded by their relentless news feeds and seem completely oblivious to the world around them and certainly the work of Major and her team in their attempts to maintain order.
Action sequences are frequent, well choreographed and Scarlett Johansson gives a great performance as the cyborg with the human brain. Her lack of emotion and facial expression is the perfect balance and as her humanity becomes more prevalent little slight changes in her expression are low key and yet hugely important to the story's development.
However, overall the film feels a little lacklustre. One of the major problems that Ghost in the Shell suffers from is the other films to which this effort is comparable.These films similar in theme and yet done to greater effect; Blade Runner's dystopian city, the action sequences of The Matrix and the conversations around what it is to be human in Ex Machina. All of these are more effective in their execution of the themes and action that Ghost in the Shell strives to achieve.
Often the conversations around what it means to be human and philosophical questions relating to the nature of the soul are cut short and action sequences are given preferential treatment which was highly frustrating. I wonder if infact another edit of this film exists in which these conversations and themes are more fully explored. We often bemoan blockbusters with long running times and yet Ghost in the Shell feels like there is at least 30 minutes missing. A further half hour could have explored and expanded the themes presented, attempted to answer the questions posed and filled out moments that sadly bypass possible further discussion.
Nothing is inherently wrong with Ghost in the Shell. The film is visually stunning and entertaining enough to more than sufficiently pass the time. However, given it's placement in a world obssessed and influenced by technology it is somewhat ironic that a lack of connectivity is apparent throughout and may send you in search of better providers.