Starring: Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy, Martha Higareda, Tom Conner, Trieu Tran, Diechen Lachman, Ato Essandoh, Kristen Lehman, Renée Elise Goldsberry, et.al.
Altered Carbon, which takes place in a semi-dystopian future society in which human bodies are simply called “sleeves” and memories and personality are stored on hard drives located in place of one of our neck vertebrae and called “stacks,” follows Takeshi Kovacs, who was serving a prison sentence after being fatally shot, after he’s revived to solve the murder of the rich and influential Laurens Bancroft, and chosen because he’s the last remaining Envoy, someone trained to have intuitive abilities that border on being psychic. As he investigates, Takeshi comes into contact with Lieutenant Kristin Ortega, who’s conducting her own investigation into the killing.
This neo-nor/sci-fi series is perfectly suited to internet streaming services like Netflix. The characters are all well-developed and multi-dimensional, and the actors all work well together. Joel Kinnaman does well as someone needing to get used to the skin they’re in for the first few episodes. James Purefoy, somewhat of an expert at playing the borderline psychopathic person, is nearly perfect as Laurens Bancroft, and infuses a sort of bored menace into everything he says. Martha Higareda’s Kristin Ortega is a dedicated, but conflicted, police officer who abandoned her religion to pursue a career in law enforcement. The real standout, however, is Tom Conner, who plays the AI hotelier Poe, the character who runs/owns the hotel where Kovacs lives.
The special effects are very well done, showing the fictional Bay City (formerly San Francisco), as a crowded, claustrophobic, built-upon neon city. The AI and holographic renderings nearly perfect, as are the scenes on alien worlds.
I would definitely recommend this show to any sci-fi fan, or even those who prefer detective stories and don’t mind some sci-fi infusion. It does require a little bit of attention, but the storyline and the worlds it takes place in are intriguing enough to hold viewer’s interest.
Altered Carbon is only available to stream from Netflix, with no word as to whether or not they plan to make it available on video.
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