Set in Japan in the future, technology has grown exponentially with common place things like ginormous colorful 3D holographic moving billboards, daily cybernetic upgrades to your body, and the Hanka Corp. that oversees everything… specifically Section 9, an anti-terrorist unit. Their #1 commander is Major Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson), who is a cyborg, except for her human brain that was taken from her near-dead body years ago. In this elite and diverse squad of soldiers, the Major’s BFF and lieutenant is Batou (Pilou Asbaek), a white-haired bear of a man.
There’s been some nasty cyber-hacking going on, and I don’t mean on computers, I mean on people! Every person has plug-in neck modules and it looks like some mysterious criminal mastermind called Kuze has done the unthinkable; he’s hacked into the minds of robots and people in order to control them to kill. His target seems to be members of the Hanka Corp, but for what reason? The head of Hanka, Chief Daisuke Aramaki (Takeshi Kitano) is plenty worried, as is his nasty-piece-of-work project leader, Cutter (Peter Ferdinando).
The Major tries to trace Kuze by using herself as cyber-bait, but nearly gets hacked out of existence, but that’s nothing compared to almost getting killed when tracking his signal to a bar. Saving Batou’s life (he gets cybernetic eyes later), they are closing in on Kuze, as his killing spree continues within the House of Hanka. Finally catching a break, Killian finds the elusive Kuze but, much to her surprise, he reveals a shocking secret that causes her to re-think her very existence.
Now that her eyes are open, she decides go after the truth within the Hanka Corp, just like Kuze did, starting with her doctor (Juliette Binoche) who confirms all the rumors and those weird glitches she’s been seeing. Will Killian discover her true identity? Will the real bad guy be found in the Hanka Corp? Will Kuze find out more than he bargained for? And IF they were making a cybernetic shell for Killian’s ‘ghost’, why didn’t they make her Japanese?
One thing’s for sure, IF you saw the cerebral and very confusing 1995 anime version, you’ll no doubt recognize quite a few doppelgangers in this movie; scenes that match almost identically to the animated film. Blame that on director Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) who must’ve been a fan, because they were done with meticulous care and precision. The man also loves his slo-mo shots and does a nice job of directing, but I had the feeling I was watching another Zack Snyder film. One saving grace to this movie is the screenplay, written by Jamie Moss, William Wheeler, Ehren Kruger which, thankfully, takes the confusing and strange plot of the animated version and evens it out.
However, that being said, many of the bizarre and tantalizing bits are now lost in translation and what you’re left with is a standard story of corporate espionage combined with A.I. cyber-hacking. Yawn. Been there, seen that. The eye-candy is impressive though; the Major’s skin-tight techsuit, for example, and all the CGI is very nice, as are the stunts.
All the while looking fantastic and retaining the same feel as the original film, the plot has been shanghaied and reworked into a listless and overdone story. As far as the cast is concerned, the ‘diversity agenda’ plays its part and, even though its set in the heart of Japan, we have an eclectic cast of various races with various accents. Johansson is miscast here as Major, as it seems she’s playing the same character from 2014’s Lucy, or an altered version of Black Widow.
Blade Runner (1982)