Based on the Japanese Manga by Masamune Shirow that began in 1989 and subsequent Anime film in 1995 directed by Mamoru Oshii this is a slick science fiction film that I enjoyed, but possibly too much of that being a result of nostalgia.
Major (Scarlett Johansson) is the first of her kind, a robot with a human mind. Retaining her ghost (soul) within her mechanical shell, she is put to work in an anti terrorism unit of the police. Her latest case calls into question whether or not she is who she thinks she is and she needs to delve deeper into what is real.
The themes on show in this film will not be new to sci-fi fans, 28 years have passed since the inception of this specific idea and the theme of worlds where technology is interfering with our humanity have been covered by many other films. Where this film excels though is in the style with which it portrays these themes. Set in a futuristic Japan featuring holographic images covering the city, robotically enhanced humans and futuristic tech, its overflowing with great imagery and interesting ideas.
Performance wise it is also strong. Johansson is very good at portraying a consciousness not quite comfortable in its skin. Pilou Asbaek as Major’s partner Batou is efficient at the gruff no-nonsense agent and it is great to see Takeshi “Beat” Katano on a cinema screen as the department head Aramaki.
Overall though, I’m not sure if my love of Anime (this specific anime at that), Beat Takeshi films (Sonatine and Hana-Bi) and Blade Runner casts a big shadow over the fact that I enjoyed this a lot. It might be a case of style over substance, but I think if you are a sci-fi fan you should see this film.