Altered Carbon has been released yesterday, and I watched a few episodes. I wasn’t sure what to think so I looked for other reviews only to find that many commentators disliked the series and gave it three stars or less despite big expectations from this series.
The Guardian called it flashy, flawed and fun, and awarded it three stars boldly saying the story is sometimes silly (see here). The Independent, on the other hand, said that the series is a daring escapism but not much more calling the series only alphabetically before likes of Netflix’s Black Mirror and Blade Runner (read here).
In a nutshell, this is another story of doomed future where technology has advanced so much that scientists can download memories to a chip that can be put into any body, conveniently (an disturbingly) called sleeve. Thus, people can be transferred to different bodies/sleeves numerous times so long as their chips are not damaged. In other words, one can get killed but still survive through this new implantation.
Needless to say, the story is centered in Protectorate or what used to be United States that no longer exists. This new Protectorate is ruled by the rich who can implant themselves in the best and the youngest bodies. Some scenes are grotesque. For example, we see a body of a young and naked women inviting visitors to buy her body and implant their wife into her. Distasteful really. This leads to saying that the story is very sexualised and there is lots of sex involved. This is fine because it is not difficult to see that the current society is over-sexualising even children and it would indeed not come as a surprise if the only industry that survives all economic turmoil turns out to be the sex industry. The main protagonist of the series is Japanese mercenary Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) who wakes up 250 years later in a body of an American and who is now owned by a billionaire Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) who lives in a sleeve and wants him to help him solve his own murder. The fact billionaire is threatening to put him back on ice is not stopping him from deciding on terms of his work, or sleeping with his wife for example.
The story is not a problem for me, because it is rather different than other similar stories. My problem is that the series is largely based in the studio and not so much outdoors. In other words, they did not spend enough to create this new doomed future and show us how it might look like in details. We see some flying cars and massive skyscrapers but we do not get to see enough of the environment. Fair enough, I only watched first three episodes but I simply lost patience. If a series is making me feel impatient than it has not been done right, and this was the case with this one as the story is indeed slightly silly in parts (e.g. with a hotel that has not had a guest for 50 years and now obsesses with Kovacs) and too studio dark. Sadly.
Thank you for reading.