Altered Carbon is another Netflix Original based on a novel by the same name. Netflix continues to impress with its casting, Joel Kinnaman recognizable from movies such as Suicide Squad and The Killing, is a great front-runner for the show. He’s accompanied by James Purefoy from A Knight’s Tale and Mexican actor Martha Higareda. The casting itself is widely diverse, and even though the actors aren’t A-list or on most radars, it’s still dependable and sells the story.
The setting for this series is all about dark neons and cyberpunk aesthetics. The show easily fits in with the rest of Netflix’s darker shows like Black Mirror and The End of the F***ing World. Yet, it sets itself apart within the science-fiction and mystery genres. Unlike Black Mirror, the show doesn’t reflect on the issues of society today, but the potential society of tomorrow. In the world of Altered Carbon people can live forever, as long as they can pay for it.
The show begins with the main character, Takeshi waking up for the first time in 250 years. He’s in a new skin, or “sleeve” as the characters call them. He’s being recruited to solve a murder because of the resume he claimed centuries ago. Takeshi is a man who constantly fights with his past, he’s a character that watchers can easily be swept up in. Kinnaman’s portrayal of him leaves little to be desired; it’s a match made in heaven.
Altered Carbon tackles problems of morality, family issues, and the use of virtual reality. The characters themselves have some pretty cool technological enhancements. It would be impossible to see a traditional phone; the iPhone of the future is attached directly to your eye in a cybernetic upgrade.
The world building in this show is enough to make viewers consider reading the source material for more of the little they have been shown. Explaining everything would have taken away from the visuals far too much. The original book Altered Carbon, published in 2002, is written by Richard Morgan, an author from the United Kingdom.
The visuals in the show are captivating. The sets and themes match the content of the show a little too well. It’s easy to see the influences from classic sci-fi movies, Blade Runner and Neuromancer. The colour scheme and imagery are immersive and distract from some dialogue that can be taken as a little too blocky.
A word of warning for those feint of heart, the show is graphic and deals with mature themes.
Graphic above by Lea Clarin