As a fan of both Sci-fi and fantasy genres, I approached the newest Netflix original production, based on 2001 book of Richard Morgan with the same title, without any prejudice. Elated to find all 10 episodes released at once, I thought the series will be perfect for binge watching. It sets an exceptionally dark and heavy atmosphere from the start – definitely no romantic comedy. It leads you by the hand to some deep thinking about the value of human life starting from the very first episode, but the intensity grows as we go on.
What is it all about? It transports us to a world a few hundred years in the future, where the major change is that people, or rather their consciousness, never dies. The human body is called ‘a sleeve’ and with the help of a disc being put into one body after another humans as a race became truly immortal. Of course the person’s appearance changes but not the personality.
A wonderful idea you would say? Not really. The value of human life is diminished, people can be killed, hit and abused even more, the pain and suffering doesn’t really matter, as the rich can buy another ‘sleeve’ for the poor they want to or annihilate them completely simply by removing the disc and not putting it back to another body ever.
As the episodes progressed I was inclined or even forced to think about human life as something precious. How much I would not like to have a future that even resembles this one! Even though the plot’s completely fictional, I treated it as food for thought about deep issues of today’s world and how we should value life and respect others more.
Even though you won’t find here any major stars, I honestly think Joel Kinnaman, Martha Higareda and Dichen Lachman playing the protagonists did a really good job. Also, quite a few treats and tidbits from famous productions and books can be found here. Without giving the major spoilers, I’d point out something or rather some place that appears in the very first episode, namely The Raven Hotel, looking out of place with the exquisite Victorian era design (complete with machine guns in the ceiling!), and a sole receptionist of the hotel with a striking resemblance to Edgar Allan Poe. Personally, I really liked this ambiance and this one always calm and concentrated man (or is he?).
Apart from that, a protagonist that was a trained killer in a previous ‘sleeve’ is hired to solve a ‘murder’ (or rather an attempted murder) of a very wealthy businessman, a bow to traditional crime stories. Set in a noir atmnosphere, this plot line leads to surprising twists and many betrayals, but this is for you to watch not for me to tell. Oh, and nudity, a lof ot nudity, and not just the top part let’s say.
To sum up, Altered Carbon both gave me food for thought about life, about who is the real killer (did I tell you that I love crime stories?) and lots of fun looking for connections with other TV series and books. Despite occasional slip ups like in every production I’m glad I binge-watched i.