Viewed – 05 April 2017 Cinema
Although I enjoyed the original 1991 anime of the same name by Mamoru Oshii, I always felt like something was missing from it, that it wasn’t the complete package. So the prospect of a live action remake was for once, intriguing. Scarlett Johansson plays a cybernetic agent who’s only human part is her brain and fragmented memories of who she used to be. Other than that she’s a highly skilled killing machine, who’s agency ‘Section 9’ is killed in when a cyber terrorist begins killing various members of a robotics organization by using innocent people and hacking into their minds.
This took a little getting into. Translating a cyber-punk future Tokyo-like aesthetic to live action takes no end of CGI and visual flair, and initially it’s overwhelming, all weird holograms in the streets and bizarre costumes and gadgets. Yet once the story kicks in I really began to get absorbed in this world. Johansson is aided well by several recognisable faces, especially Juliette Binoche (The English Patient) as a scientist and veteran Japanese actor ‘Beat’ Takeshi Kitano (Battle Royal). Johansson herself is good as a character trying to figure out what it’s like to be human and adjust to her robotic body, and she conveys the not-quite-human personality eerily well. The movie is also filled with several action sequences, although these are a little hit and miss – full of cool looking imagery for the trailer or poster, but fail to flow as well as say, The Matrix – there’s a little too much style and choppy editing to fully make them ‘zing’. Also the suit that Johansson’s character wears to go invisible … I’m still undecided if it looked sexy or silly (the original movie’s was much more skin-like and could easily be seen as naked). Such a look was probably avoided however to maintain that 12A/PG-13 rating (another issue that impacts the action).
Thankfully where it all leads is much more fleshed out and satisfying than the original movie and has more closure for the lead character. So for the always difficult task of translating anime to a mainstream audience, director Rupert Sanders has done a commendable if somewhat rough around the edges job, that’s still worth your time if you like your sci-fi with style cranked up to 11.
Verdict: 3 /5