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Netflix gives us a cold hard look into the future with ‘Altered Carbon’

The new sci-fi series starring Joel Kinnaman shows us a bleak world where death is just the beginning. File under: highly streamable
Netflix gives us a cold hard look into the future with 'Altered Carbon'
Joel Kinnaman as Takeshi Kovacs in Netflix's 'Altered Carbon'. Photo credit: Netflix

This Friday, Netflix will premiere the wildly ambitious, futuristic neo-noir “Altered Carbon” — a series that will surely have you bingeing hard through the weekend. Based on the famous cyberpunk novel by Richard K. Morgan, "Altered Carbon" takes place 300 years in the future, in a world where human consciousness can be uploaded into a brand new body (aka a sleeve) when you die.

The series tells the tale of once-defected military officer Takeshi Kovacs, being born into a brand new sleeve (played by Joel Kinnaman) after he was originally killed in a fiery shootout with the police hundreds of years earlier. Kovacs quickly learns that he was brought back into the world by wealthy businessman Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy) in order to investigate — wait for it — Bancroft’s own death!

From there, the show moves at a relentless pace, following Kovacs through this near-dystopian future as he discovers the gruesome circumstances of Bancroft's murder. He's Joined by a group of misfits of varying degrees, including policewoman Kristin Ortega (Martha Higareda). Ortega, of course, has a healthy distrust of Kovacs and his unorthodox methods but forges an unlikely partnership with him in order to find out what’s what.

For what it's worth, Kinnaman shines as the brooding Kovacs, a man out of time operating in an unfamiliar world and a new body. It's the kind of role that the "Suicide Squad" actor was born to play. His magnetic charisma keeps your eyes glued to him whether he's mumbling perfect one-liners in a molasses-slow drawl or putting his fists through everyone who stands between him and the truth.

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The world of "Altered Carbon" that creator Laeta Kalogridis has built is similar to both the grimy sprawl of “Blade Runner” and the ruthless class-divided society of the “Hunger Games” series. Every piece of scenery has something more to it than what meets the eye, giving the show a caustic yet vibrant feel to it.

BUT BEWARE: “Altered Carbon” does have an extremely complex plot-line and can be hard to follow at times. Don’t let that get in your way, though. Once you give the show sometime to dig its claws into you, they will be in there for good.

The entire first season of “Altered Carbon” will be available to stream this Friday, February 2nd on Netflix.