Altered Carbon - Season 1 (TV Review)


Altered Carbon is a Netflix original series based off the comic of the same name. It stars Joel Kinnaman, James Purefoy, Martha Higareda, Dichen Lachman, and Ato Essandoh. 

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In a future where the rich can live seemingly forever and the poor are merely surviving, a wealthy Meth brings back one of the worlds last Envoy's to help him solve his own murder. Joel Kinnaman plays the lead Takeshi Kovacs hired to solve the crime, but through the course of the season is haunted by ghosts of his past life and hunted by new enemies when he begins to get closer to the case. 

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The world building of Altered Carbon is amazing, we get glimpses of the past and we are set into this future that would be incredible to explore. Often compared to Blade Runner I would say this show or any episode alone surpasses Blade Runner not only in scope and ambitiousness but in the representation of so many cultures and ethnicities. The inclusion of different characters and such makes for a better story that gives it that epic world feel. The story is simple if you can keep up with the terminology thrown at you, Takeshi Kovacs played not only by Joel Kinnaman but by Byron Mann (briefly) and Will Yun Lee (who plays past Tak) is such a compelling character. Will Yun Lee who plays the first Kovacs (in chronological order) serves as the template of a young and more compassionate version who is more of a hero than the Kinnaman version when we first meet him in the show. Joel Kinnaman really shines as Kovacs in this series, one can look back at past performances from Kinnaman and be worried if he could carry a show as a lead but he does it and exceeds in this show and in this role. His performance is believable and doesn't need to match what Lee is doing to feel the evolution of the charcter, to believe he is the same person even though he is in a different sleeve (body).

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The supporting cast is just as important, and Altered Carbon gives us plenty of them. Martha Higareda who plays Kristin Ortega as the opposite of Joel has a great showing and has her own story that she follows throughout the course of the season. Certain surprises and revelations shed light into her interest with Kovacs. Dichen Lachman as Reileen (Kovacs sister) gives a great and powerful performance that I myself did not expect as a viewer when following the story. The action in this show does not pull back and can be graphic but it is all done with serving the story they are telling. One of the action sequences involving Dichen Lachman has to be the most well thought out and coordinated in the show to be pulled off. 

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Overall, the story and visuals adds to the actors performance and enhances this show so much. Joel Kinnaman shows us why we shouldn't sleep on him as an actor. Dichen Lachman has the performance and one of the most fun and what will be talked about scenes in the show. 



The Grade