By Gustavo Buenrostro
“Altered Carbon” has great visual effects, fantastic costumes and good acting, but plays on overused tropes.
Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) is one of the last remaining envoys, warriors that can easily adapt to any environment they are put in.
His character has been brought back to life after being dead for 250 years and put into a new body, which the show refers to as sleeves.
The transfer of consciousness is made possible by a technology called stacks, which allows the conscious of the person wearing them to be downloaded and put in a new body.
The series begins with Kovacs being brought back to life by Laurens Bancroft, a rich man that has a lot of influence, to help solve his murder.
Kinnaman, who has appeared in “House of Cards” and “Suicide Squad,” comes to this show playing the same character he has played in the past, which is a highly-skilled soldier who has a serious demeanor and doesn’t care about anything going on around him.
While there aren’t any layers to the character, Kinnaman does a good job playing that type of role. His performance is very believable in the role, but his character is very predictable.
The problem with the character of Kovacs can also be applied to the show, which is predictable and generic.
It doesn’t help the the show’s dialogue is not well written and falls into blanket good guy and bad guy lines that don’t carry any weight. The show’s production and technical aspects are definitely a highlight.
It is strongly reminiscent of “Blade Runner” and its world which is sort of cyber-punk retroism.
The design of the police called the Praetorians is slick. The special effects are also something that the show has going for it.
In the first episode, Kovacs is taken to Bancroft’s home, which is located above the clouds.
The home looks like an ivory spiral and the effects look like they belong in a high budget movie.
The show also has a scene where Kovacs is looking through the walls and sees people highlighted, like a video game.
The opening scene of the show felt like a small homage to “The Matrix” with Kovacs waking up from death.
The imagery resembles what Neo looked like when waking up from the matrix.
The story isn’t anything spectacular with the bulk of it being about the Bancroft murder.
It also follows a police woman named Kristen Oretega (Martha Higareda), who finds Kovacs and is interested in finding out why someone like him was brought back to life.
“Altered Carbon” tries to play with social issues with the rich being the ones to access stacks and the poor being used as sleeves.
However, the show barely touches upon these issues or talks about it, but it doesn’t take the subject anywhere else.
The show tries to make up for it in the aesthetic and details of the world.
Many characters speak in their native tongues, but can understand each other perfectly well.
The action is another plus for the show.
In one episode, Kovacs is being hunted by gangsters who find him in a hotel which is equipped with defensives to help protect himself while he deals with the leader of the gang.
In the end, “Altered Carbon” is a pretty show with decent performances and a by-the-book story.
It will appeal to some people, but it will most likely not have a lasting impression on them.
The show is rated TV-MA and is available for streaming on Netflix.