Blade Runner is a franchise that epitomises the cyberpunk sub-genre of science-fiction. If you don’t know cyberpunk, it combines futuristic technology with a social order radically different from ours. Think Blade Runner series, its flashy neon lights and its replicants. Altered Carbon is Netflix’s foray into cyberpunk. I have seen a few initial episodes and I can honestly say while the show is a visual spectacle on your laptop or TV screen, it would have been perfect as a big-screen release. Be that as it may, Altered Carbon is not just eye-candy, but there is an emphasis on making the frames as beautiful as possible.
Altered Carbon tells the story of a world wherein it has become possible to download your consciousness into ‘stacks’, devices that can be placed in another body, called ‘sleeve’ in the show. Basically, this all means that it is possible to stay alive practically forever in the world of Altered Carbon. When somebody dies, they can just arrange for a transfer of stacks into some other body. The ‘hero’ of the show, or whatever passes for hero in the show, is Takeshi Kovacs, a mercenary who wakes up 300 years after his sleeve is transferred into a new one. He is the property of James Purefoy’s Laurens Bancroft, the wealthiest man in the world, who charges him to find the person who “killed” him, or destroyed his previous sleeve.
Purefoy is an actor I know from HBO’s Rome, and he is equally prone to exaggeration here. Joel Kinnaman, who plays Takeshi Kovacs, gives a good performance, although it must be said his capacity to emote is fairly limited. Other actors do a fine job, but so far the plot is fairly thin.
In spite of this, the pace is breathtakingly fast in Altered Carbon. Although dialogue can be redundant or even faintly ridiculous, the show provides decent entertainment and cyberpunk fans are sure to love incredibly well-realised setting that easily rivals Blade Runner 2049. Altered Carbon is clearly a very expensive show. Stay tuned for the full review.
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