Ben Hibburd’s review published on Letterboxd:
This live action adaption of Ghost in the Shell guts out all the amazing philosophical debate of the anime and leaves just the spectacle.....Sigh! That's not what made Ghost in the Shell (1995) so great. This film had moments where it was approaching that level except they were so fleeting it angered me more. This film had so much potential but it was unfortunately squandered.
This film suffers from the same issue all remakes/adaptions of previous cinematic works have. It's unable to find its own identity, this film is caught somewhere between taking elements of the original film, the TV anime and forging its own ideas. And in the end the film becomes a melting pot of a bunch of stories and influences without ever finding its own voice.
It's a shame because it's clear to see that the crew involved in this film have a passion for the source material they're working with. Rupert Sanders and his cinematographer and set designers do a masterful job of recreating the environment of the anime. The world feels like a tactile place that's lived in and whilst there are some iffy CGI moments, for the most part its on point.
The actors all do a good job with the paper thin material that they're given. Other then Scarlett Johansson as the Major the rest of the cast are sidelined. Most notably the wonderful Takeshi Kitano who's relegated to a handful of scenes. If I wasn't a fan of the anime and TV series, I'd have no clue who these characters were or what they were about.
In the end this film was a major missed opportunity. The film is by no means horrid, it just didn't have the depth and intelligence of the anime. It took a cerebral piece of Sci-Fi and turned it into a mindless action film.