Set in the distant future, Netflix’s big budget, CGI extravaganza asks grand questions about the meaning of life, what makes us human, and how science and religion can connect, but this body-swapping drama takes things far too literally, and sucks the life out of its subjects in doing so.
To summarize, as briefly as possible: In his old life, Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman) joined a terrorist organization that was fed up with the unequal distribution of wealth, and thus the growing disparity in power.Yet for as catchy as Sheeran’s breakout song can be, there’s something really, really creepy about its chorus.“I’m in love with the shape of you,” the “Game of Thrones” star croons, over and over, as the rhythm hastens along with the hearts of so many teenage fans.That’s a ton of exposition to get through, and, to its credit, “Altered Carbon” does a decent job of setting everything up without boring the audience to tears. Where “Blade Runner” is confident enough in its big questions to let Vangelis’ synth score and Jordan Cronenweth’s telling visuals breathe life into the story, “Altered Carbon” is overrun by redundant jibber-jabber. They tell viewers what to think about; they steer you in directions you know are misleading, and then they whip you back around in exhaustingly overworked “twists.” (Don’t worry.We’ll get into the twists later.) From Kovacs going back and forth about whether to take the case you know he’ll take — otherwise, there would be no show — all the way through the final reveal regarding a character who’s been bad all along, “Altered Carbon” delays the inevitable as often as it represses its emotional stakes.