‘Altered Carbon’ Trailer: Death is But a Mere Inconvenience

Dystopian fiction never really goes out of style. 
Altered Carbon
By  · Published on December 5th, 2017

Dystopian fiction never really goes out of style.

Netflix’s new 10-epiosode adaptation of the cyperpunk hardboiled detective series, Altered Carbon just got its first trailer. Watch it below.

Here is the show’s official synopsis: “Altered Carbon takes place in a future where the human mind can now be digitized and downloaded into a “cortical stack” and placed into new bodies, called sleeves. The series follows Envoy soldier Takeshi Kovacs (Joel Kinnaman), who is brought back to life centuries later to investigate the attempted murder of Laurens Bancroft (James Purefoy), the wealthiest man on Earth. As the investigation progresses, Kovacs comes to learn that his past isn’t nearly as buried as he thought.”

Even in the original series by Richard K. Morgan, a character named “Takeshi” is resurrected in a white guy’s body in a kind of canon-approved whitewashing situation, which is genuinely ridiculous. But for what it’s worth, Altered Carbon ticks all the boxes of a show going deep into the throes of a futuristic dystopia. With Altered Carbon coming out within a couple of years of both Westworld and Blade Runner 2049, an easy comparison can be drawn between all three in a good way. The trailer splices together disturbing clips of Kovacs’ reawakening and a ‘Psychasec’ advertisement that will most likely feature as some kind of propaganda in the show itself. We catch a glimpse of the other featured actors in the series such as Dichen Lachman and Renée Elise Goldsberry, and there’s a hint of a fight scene or two thrown into the busy mix.

At this point in the timeline of similar sci-fi films and shows, Altered Carbon doesn’t have to be the most original thing out there — it just has to do the tropes right. The acting will most likely be on point, in any case. As a leading man, Kinnaman has kind of been dealt a crappy hand by Hollywood. He was far from the worst thing about Robocop and Suicide Squad, even if those blockbusters did poorly. But starring in a smaller crime series may allow Kinnaman a renewed opportunity, much like co-starring in AMC’s The Killing did.

But a concern about Altered Carbon is the portrayal of women, given that most slightly-noir, slightly-dystopian stories tend to neglect those characters or sideline them into aestheticized objects. The trailer doesn’t give us much to work with on this front, but my fingers are tightly crossed for better characterization. Altered Carbon will have 10 whole episodes; Netflix can and should make it work.

We may constantly be at dystopian fiction overload, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a sucker for a show like this. Altered Carbon premieres on February 2, 2018.

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Sheryl Oh often finds herself fascinated (and let's be real, a little obsessed) with actors and their onscreen accomplishments, developing Film School Rejects' Filmographies column as a passion project. She's not very good at Twitter but find her at @sherhorowitz anyway. (She/Her)