Sunday, February 18, 2018

Altered Carbon

TV Show Name: Altered Carbon
Year of Release: 2018
Directors: Alex Graves, Peter Hoar, Nick Hurran, Andy Goddard, Miguel Sapochnik, Uta Briesewitz
Stars: Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy, Martha Higareda, Chris Conner, Dichen Lachman, Will Yun Lee, Ato Essandoh, Kristin Lehman, Trieu Tran, Waleed Zuaiter, Tamara Taylor, Byron Mann, Hayley Law, Marlene Forte
Genre: Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
View Trailer

Another month, another new TV show provided by Netflix. This time around, this one comes through Skydance (the production house responsible for some "Mission: Impossible" features and also the latest "Terminator" installments, to name but a few). "Altered Carbon" is an adaptation of the novel by Richard Morgan, which has been shepherded by Laeta Kalogridis, who has previously worked with Martin Scorsese on "Shutter Island" and James Cameron on "Avatar". The story takes place in the future, where consciousness and the sense of self has shifted, since people can inhabit different bodies (or sleeves), carrying with them their memories through years and years. A man deemed responsible for some serious crimes, is thawed out (in this future, criminals are frozen for periods of time corresponding to their sentence), and given a new sleeve, in order to investigate a murder attempt that has taken place against someone with a lot of power and resources. Kovacs, is an expert investigator, and possessed of lethal skills. He's also placed in a sleeve who carries a lot of memories for the police officers who are quickly on his trail. As Kovacs adapts to this new time, he also remembers faces and situations of his past, as all these timelines and characters clash as he unfolds the mysteries surrounding that murder attempt.
"Altered Carbon" is an interesting show that wears a lot of its influences very apparently. There's the instantly recognizable influence from "Blade Runner", but there's also bits of "Minority Report" thrown in, and even "Total Recall" (all from the mantle of Philip K. Dick). The show succeeds in being a noir/detective story, where the hero navigates a dangerous path to find the puppet master behind all the machinations occurring. It's also peppered with very interesting concepts on mortality, the possibility of living endlessly and the effects that it creates on people, caste systems, and also the evolution of society itself. If some of these topics are brushed a bit more roughly, the show is nonetheless an interesting suspense yarn, that is exposed progressively, therefore being able to retain the attention of the viewer during the 10 episodes. Visually the series is interesting, even if needed a bit more consistency in tone (the production design is a bit all over the place, the same going for the costume design). The acting group assembled is adequate without being particularly memorable, though James Purefoy plays sinister perfectly at this point. An interesting show worth watching.