Netflixable? “Ghost in the Shell SAC_2045 — Sustainable War”

Perhaps the best representation of the tediously-over-titled latest installment in the “Ghost in the Shell” media vortex –– “Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Sustainable War” — is that hideously over-loaded title itself, translated from “Kôkaku kidôtai SAC_2045 Jizoku kanô sensô.”

Three directors, six credited screenwriters, vividly-animated characters with rigidly immobile faces, exteriors that have some of the most realistic CGI “sunshine” ever coupled with generally dull and dark eye-straining interiors, endless low-stakes action buried under endless exposition masquerading as dialogue from an infantry battalion of “characters” — some of them kewpie-doll voiced robots — one hardly knows where to begin.

How about at the end? This two hour movie never, for one second, lets your forget that it’s “content” — manufactured, formulaic piffle with a fixed set-price/run-time that’s been filled with material that feels more like something generated by an algorithm than anything humans put any heart and soul into.

With manga, TV series, video games and the occasional movie assembly-lined into existence over the past three decades, it’s damned near impossible to drop in and out of “Ghost in the Shell,” film by film. You don’t so much absorb the blizzard of words, the sea of characters and ever-deepening pile of backstory and exposition as let it wash over you. It’s a little like having your brain buried in sand.

The big idea here is that the “Ghost” mercenary team — with many members, vehicles and a robot or two — are treated as pawns by competing billionaire-run global conglomerates which came up with the concept of “sustainable war,” manufactured conflict designed for maximum profits, only to turn civilization into a few fortified citadels, cities and billionaire compounds separated by a near-wasteland on its way to “Mad Max” status.

“Even Japan’s dangerous now,” the ex-detective/ex-“Ghost” team member Togusa mutters.

One billionaire has been nicknamed “The Good One Percenter.” Random remarks reveal where this or that mercenary or “amateur” gang came from — ex-college athletes “bankrupted by student loans” created one.

Chases, chases and more chases end in fights, with characters chattering away to each other in future combatspeak that resembles telepathy because nobody’s lips move…much.

I guess adding that to the “content” would’ve cost too much. The entire affair looks pricey but cut-rate at the same time, like a Tesla… The Budweiser product placement does nothing to dispel that.

If you’re way down the rabbit hole of “Ghost,” you will almost certainly get more out of this than the rest of us. I guess my question, repeated too often when I dip back into this franchise, is “Why would anyone bother?”

Cast: Cherami Leigh, Michael McCarty, Dave Wittenberg, Laura Post, Keith Silverstein, Roger Craig Smith, many others

Credits: Directed by Shinji Aramaki, Michihito Fujii and Kenji Kamiyama, scripted by Ryô Higaki, Harumi Doki, Kenji Kamiyama, Daisuke Ohigashi, Kurasumi Sunayama and Dai Satô, created by Shirow Masamune. A Netflix release.

Running time: 2:00

About Roger Moore

Movie Critic, formerly with McClatchy-Tribune News Service, Orlando Sentinel, published in Spin Magazine, The World and now published here, Orlando Magazine, Autoweek Magazine
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