Friday, February 23, 2018

Now on Netflix: Altered Carbon (2018)

Altered Carbon (2018) - Created by Laeta Kalogridis; Starring Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy, Martha Higareda, Chris Conner, Dichen Lachman, Ato Essandoh, Kristen Lehman, Trieu Tran, Renee Elise Goldsberry.

By Kenny Howell

Altered Carbon, the big budget, gorgeous new sci-fi from Netflix, is both clever and not clever enough at the same time.

The clever part is the set up based on the Richard K. Morgan novel from 2002. It is set in the future, obviously, in a time where humans consciousness can be downloaded into a small disk called a stack. That stack can be inserted into any human body available, known simply as sleeves. This means you can survive physical death as long as your stack is intact or your consciousness has been backed up somewhere.

A former soldier named Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) is brought back after years in storage and put into the body of a former cop. That was ordered by a wealthy man named Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy). Bancroft believed he was killed, but doesn't remember who did it because his last backup was before it happened. It was ruled a suicide but Bancroft wants Kovacs to figure out what really happened.

Of course, things go way deeper than just that mystery, otherwise we wouldn't have a show. Kovacs works his way through this stunning to look at, but rather disgusting world to get to the bottom of the case.

Netflix plopped down some cash for this one, and it definitely shows on screen. The special effects are outstanding, and the world has that cyberpunk look similar to something like Blade Runner. It honestly may be one of the best looking shows on TV there has been. However, I kind of wish they would have saved a bit of that money and invested into the script and actors. Neither are bad, but they contribute to what is not so clever with this show. They don't do a ton with the world itself. It's a dour place, and the tone stays that way, when a little more fun could have made this feel less like a slog at times. I mean there is a naked sword fight, so there's that, but I think the first season really only tipped what could have been done with this world.

I also wish there was a bit more charismatic lead. Kinnaman is a good action star, but personality isn't his strong point. Again, this place is super crappy, and I think someone who could react to this tone instead of live in it would have been better. Purefoy is quite good in the Bancroft role, but many of the other actos shoot for B-movie territory when I think the ideas with this could have gone so much higher.

Altered Carbon is now streaming on Netflix.

Rating: **1/2

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