Director: Rupert Sanders
Having been saved from a terrorist attack which claimed the lives of her parents, Major Kaori Yamamoto is the first of her kind. Her mind, her brain , her “ghost” has been placed in a completely cybernetic body when her own human body could not be saved after the attack. The ultimate weapon against terrorism she is dedicated to her role and her team. That’s until she comes up against, the apparently crazed terrorist, Kuze who plants the seed in Major’s mind that all is not what is seems and suggests that she has been lied to by her superiors.
I know there’s been a fair bit of controversy about Scarlett Johansson being cast in the role of Major not least because she’s not Japanese which is fair enough. However, I’m a keen fan of Johansson particularly in this kind of movie. She’s well qualified to appear here given her Marvel history and Luc Besson’s “Lucy”. She’s just right for the role, a not untalented actress in an action genre guise. This is something you can’t often say about male leads in similar movie types. It was Pilou Asbæk who I also really warmed to. Last seen in Game Of Thrones he offered a warmth to Batou despite his gruff demeanour and incredible haircut, a beast of a man but with a hidden kinder heart. It was good to see Takeshi Kitano here also, a veteran of Japanese cinema, “Beat” takes a more supervisory chief role here but he’s not beyond exacting his own justice during the movie. Credit is due also to Michael Pitt as he brings a cold yet vulnerable outlook as Kuze. As his part in the story becomes clearer it’s worth noting his tortured yet determined performance. Finally it was great for me, personally, to see Peter Ferdinando given the opportunity at a bigger role. Having seen him in a number of British films directed on occasion by Gerard Johnson including the fantastic Tony, it was a good opportunity to show his skills on a bigger stage and I feel he took the chance well and will be seen on-screen again soon.
The origins of this film emanate from the manga film of 1995, a genre I was fully familiar with at the height of its popularity but one I didn’t spend a lot of time watching. This film has hit a raw nerve with some fans of the genre which is fair enough but the same can be said of any remake or reboot. Are they ever as faithful or respectful to their original. I can’t offer an opinion on that having never seen the original, what I can offer is an honest opinion on the film I watched both in 3D and then in 2D as I nodded off a couple of times after a long day at work.
In summary I really enjoyed the movie. It reached the standards a dark science fiction yarn should reach without ever hitting amazing levels. It avoids any unnecessary humour and keeps the tone very downbeat. There’s nothing to smile about here although a very satisfactory conclusion did bring a wry smile at the end. The film is well put together and doesn’t complicate itself in terms of plot which apparently is what has disappointed a lot of the original’s fans. For me it didn’t need to be complicated to win me over. If a sequel is to come there’s plenty of room to build the story arc if that eventuality follows.
The verdict: 3.5/5 Stars: A ghost worth shelling out for.