“Altered Carbon”: Netflix’s Newest Hit

Would you live your life differently if you could live forever?

“Altered Carbon” follows Takeshi Kovacs, played by Joel Kinnaman, as he is brought back from the dead after 250 years to solve a murder mystery.

Based on a 2002 novel by Richard Morgan, “Altered Carbon” hit the Netflix scene on Feb. 2 as one of the streaming website’s most recent original series, and is increasingly growing in popularity since its release.

Set in a futuristic San Francisco, people in “Altered Carbon” have implanted memory drives, called Stacks, that allow their consciousness to be stored, backed up, put in a new body – known as sleeves – or sent to a new sleeve on another planet.

The show has a similar-but-not-so-similar feel to a classic, “The Matrix.” Even if cyberpunk crime dramas don’t catch your eye, this one is still worth the watch.

Kovacs does whatever it takes to solve his sponsor’s case to earn his freedom. His sponsor, Laurens Bancroft, played by James Purefoy, purchased Kovacs to figure out who murdered him. In the end, he solves several cases gone cold in Bay City.

During which, the audience learns of what lies underneath the surface of Kovacs through flashbacks of his past life. Memories include his childhood with his sister, time served with the Protectorate (a galactic rule enforcement agency) and training with the Envoys (a rogue vigilante society).

This show keeps viewers on the edge of their seat through all 10 episodes, as the plot takes turns for the worse, adding layers of mystery on top of itself. Despite being able to binge them all in one sitting, this mature-rated crime saga is definitely not safe for work.

One of the strongest minor characters, but a strong candidate for favorite, would be Poe, played by Chris Conner. Poe, an artificial intelligence humanoid that runs a hotel which offers his services to Kovacs. Although a machine, he is deeply fascinated with human-kind and is just as quick with a shotgun as he is to light up a smoke.

Kovacs also gets a little help from inside the Bay City Police Department, as his stalker-turned-ally Kristin Ortega, played by Martha Higareda, has just as much determination to fight crime despite the corruption within the department.

Adding a twist in the mix, Kovacs is brought back to life in the sleeve of Ortega’s ex-boyfriend as a bad joke by Bancroft.

For better or worse, Kovacs is reunited in thought and reality with his younger sister, Reileen, played by Dichen Lachman. The mystery behind how his sister has lived the past 250 years will make your head spin, as well as how much of a hand she had in Kovacs return.

Kinnaman is perfect for the role, as he has a great vibe about him to critically work in an enforcer role. However, it is also the supporting roles around him that truly enhance this saga. Lachman, for example, is definitely the perfect warrior character. Will Yun Lee, who plays Kovacs in his original body, also fits the bill of a powerful ninja warrior.

As always, the first season ends on a high note, but also on a terrible cliffhanger, as the sister disappears and Kovacs is off to find out if his first true love is still alive, giving up on Ortega and the relationship they started to have.

“Altered Carbon” is Kinnaman’s first lead role since “Edge of Water” in 2016 (Elliott Baker) but more notably known as RoboCop in the 2014 film. His first Netflix Original appearance came on “The Killing” (Stephen Holder) from 2011 to 2014 and in “House of Cards” (Will Conway) from 2016 to 2017.

 

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