Netflix clearly spent a lot of money on Altered Carbon. Based on a series of sci-fi novels, well, it’s weird and expensive-looking.
Is it good?
Judging the show on the basis of a single episode, I’d say yes.
Joel Kinnaman stars as Takeshi Kovacs. If you think a tall, blonde guy like Kinnaman doesn’t look anything like a Takeshi Kovacs, there’s a good reason for that. Set at some point in the future, humanity has developed a technology called a “stack”. Implanted into the neck around the age of one year, the device allows the person to, in case of emergency, download his or her consciousness into a new body called a “sleeve”. The only way to truly kill someone permanently is to destroy the stack or just take out the head. And even then, for the extremely wealthy, there’s still a way to stay alive if you have sufficient resources.
Kovacs has been revived and granted a possible parole after being, well, just a stack for 250 years. He was convicted of terrorism and even the killing of a former girlfriend (she was killed by the commando types that came to arrest him). Now in a new body, he’s been tasked by super-rich guy Laurens Bancroft (Rome‘s James Purefoy) to find out who killed Laurens Bancroft.
See, Bancroft has a special satellite that can download a back-up of his memories every 48 hours, so when some unknown person shot him in the head, he lost all memory of who did it.
Why Kovacs? Kovacs was trained as an Envoy, a super-soldier who could download to any sleeve, combat-ready, good at reading people and with computers, and in possession of a photographic memory. As it is, Kovacs is haunted by two different women, one of whom is his sister. The other? Not sure, but they both seem dead, and Kovacs instinct is to say no and go back to his life sentence. But then some guys trying to kill him as he is checking into The Raven, an old brothel/hotel with a Gothic theme and an AI manager named Edgar Poe. That comes in handy since the hotel comes with automated weapons to take out the assassins who showed someone somehow knows Kovacs is there. It seems Poe is a bit grateful for the first customer in 50 years.
There’s a lot to process here. The sleeve thing isn’t foolproof as seen when a seven year old girl, killed by a hit-and-run, is given a free sleeve in the form of an old woman. Plus, a cop named Kristen Ortega wants Kovacs back in jail after looking at his file. Or she wants him. Either could be possible.
This is clearly the sort of heady show a sci-fi fan should check out. We’ll see if Kovacs can find a murderer. It seems someone trying to kill him just makes him want to find out more.