Death is just the beginning of Netflix’s Altered Carbon (Review)

The future is an exciting concept and Netflix’s newest original series Altered Carbon is set in it, but is it a match made in heaven?

Altered Carbon tells the story of Takeshi Kovacs (Will Yun Lee, Hawaii Five-O), a leader in a revolutionary movement that ended badly. Upon his death, society changed from what we know into something far more complex.You see, in this future, most people have cortical stacks in their spinal columns that store their memories- like a back up drive in a computer- digitising your life, making it possible to download your consciousness into a new body, called sleeves. If the body dies, their stack can be stored indefinitely. Death is now just an event, not the end.

After being put on ice for over 300 years, Takeshi is woken at the request of Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy, the Following). Takeshi, now played by Joel Kinnaman (House of Cards), is released to serve the remainder of his sentence thanks to Laurens, who offers Kovacs a pardon for his crimes if he can solve a “murder” — Bancroft’s own, as somebody killed his previous sleeve.

Throughout the series opening hour, Takeshi is also introduced Kristin Ortega (Martha Higareda), a detective with a complicated past who plays a larger role as the series develops beyond the first three episodes watched for this review.

The series biggest strength is the ability of its creator and episode one writer Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) who sets up the futuristic concepts and world early, but also allowing us to discover the rules along with Takeshi.

The casting is dynamic, with Joel Kinnaman being a star on the rise with a performance that can be considered his best work to date. Watch out for Aussie Dichen Lachman (Neighbours, Dollhouse) as his sister Reileen.

Altered Carbon takes us through Takeshi’s past as he adjusts to the future and contemplates Laurens offer. It’s both smartly written and sexy and can be considered one of Netflix’s best originals.

4 out of 5 stars

Altered Carbon premieres Friday February 2 on Netflix.