The story takes place around the 25th century. A soldier, answering to the name of Takeshi Kovacs, wakes up in another sleeve ("skin") after 250 years of "death". He's hired by a meth (meaning a very rich man) Laurens Bancroft to solve a murder: Bancroft's own murder. Bancroft changed his sleeve but of course he'd like to know who's trying to kill him.
At first, "Altered Carbon" is based on a series of books (trilogy) first published in 2002. (Actually, I bought them but I didn't read them yet so I can't compare the books vs the series).
First of all, the casting was pretty well chosen. The actors are great. I'm not gonna lie: I didn't knew Joel Kinnaman from before given the fact I've never seen "The Killing" nor the Mexican actress, Martha Higareda, playing Kristin Ortega.
Joel, for me, is the perfect guy to impersonate Kovacs: a deep voice, a great body and an acting on point (he has a lot of charisma). As for Ortega, she's one of my favorite alongside Quell (played by Renee Elise Goldsberry): badass, they both have character. I simply love them! Plus, Ortega is loyal and has integrity.
I also liked the fight scenes (especially the one during episode 4. It was insane!). For a TV Series, I found it to have great action. And the good scenario really helps achieving this. Although, sometimes some storylines struggled a bit. For instance, the storyline with Kovacs's sister, Reileen Kawahara (Dichen Lachman, actress we've already seen in The 100) at the very end started to be quite long in my point of view. I think the story concerning the sister could have been wrapped up in less time. But the end is interesting, learning like this what she did in the past concerning Quell. The chapter is brilliantly closed and it suggests a promising season 2.
"Altered Carbon" enters into the future. As I mentioned in the synopsis people live into "sleeves", meaning they live with other poeple's body, not with their original ones*). Furthermore, their conscience is inside "slacks" which are tiny microchips located at the back of their neck.
*The only people who can afford leaving with their original body are called "meth". They are "very rich people" who can create "clones" of themselves. The meths actually live in the air, up in the sky such as living gods.
For me, sleeves are very useful and very convenient. This process offers you immortality (who has never dreamt of that?). Of course you'll be alive as long as your stack's okay (even if your body dies). On the other hand, if your stack gets destroyed, then your fate will be "real death" (RD).
However, if that would happen in real life that would be scary …a bit at least…. In fact, you're not truly yourself…of course you have your conscience but bodies are also important. It should take time to adapt so I don't know about those). Also, there will be a time for adaptation in terms of gender (which brings back to the current issues of today's society). Indeed, in this series there's no more "proper gender"… at least you can switch. It's very futuristic (a woman can perfectly end up in a man's body and vice versa).
As we speak of the future, I think it is well represented. The design and graphism are outstanding: virtual boards, phones in the eye, smart bracelets, iron arms with extraordinary force, etc. Surgery is an entire new thing as well. It's expensive (quite like today in certain countries where only the very rich can have the very best of treatments) but it has known such a progress. It goes the same with technology. There are flying cars, the bombs end up having electric shields, bigger amplitude, etc.
Also, there are new activities and services. I'm not gonna enumerate all of them but only the one that talked to me: the Raven Hotel. See I study tourism and it was very interesting to see an AI (Artificial Intelligence) owning the place, "being" the hotel and being a "possessive" hotel. By possessive I mean they're protecting their customers at all cost (guns in the ceiling, watching everybody's moves quite like a raven). If we think about it it could be possible actually, technically speaking, to put that in place but of course, I'm not sure tourism is going this way at the moment ;)
To conclude I would say that even if it's the future, the show reflects on what's happening at the moment in today's world. There are lots of problems concerning gender identity, the poor and the very rich...
However, in the end, things get complicated because of course Kovacs's sleeve isn't just a sleeve: it's Elias Ryker's sleeve who was Ortega's boyfriend and partner in the police (suspended for about 200 years). It's when we found this information that we start making connections and learn how everything's linked between Ryker's case, Bancroft's murder, the Ghostwalker, etc. Obviously, Kovacs and Ortega relationship is hard to define.
Like I mentioned previously, a second season is already planned, although Joel Kinnaman said he wasn't sure to be back so that would mean Kovacs is back into his old skin (or another one perhaps?). Anyway, I loved the interpretation of both actors (the main ones): Joel Kinnaman and Will Yun Lee even if sometimes I felt quite torn between the two...like if they were completely different actors.