‘John Luther’ movie review: Jayasurya’s evenly paced thriller falters only in the last act

Debutant director Abhijith Joseph, who also scripted the film, does not tread new ground, but is sure of what he is doing

May 28, 2022 06:03 pm | Updated May 31, 2022 03:21 pm IST

A still from ‘John Luther’

A still from ‘John Luther’

It is safe to say that the identity and motivations of the criminal that Circle Inspector John Luther is investigating is not something which would turn up in the wildest of our guesses. The motivation is so bizarre and convoluted that it almost threatens to derail all the painful work of scripting an intriguing investigation.

Debutant director Abhijith Joseph, who also scripted the film, does not tread new ground, but is sure of what he is doing. One gets that sense right from the arresting opening scene of a dead body landing with a thud on top of a bus which is snaking up a hairpin-filled highway on a rainy night. The mood, the setting and the measured arrival at the suspense during the end of the scene gives a clue of what lies ahead.

John Luther (Jayasurya), the titular character, has some vulnerabilities, but is sharp at his job of picking out clues where hardly any exist. He is not averse to taking risks, as evident from his sister’s album of polaroid photographs of John with his various injuries. Fully immersed in his job, he is absent from the family, even on the most important occasions. The dead body on top of the bus sets off an investigation, which would throw up more challenges as he moves ahead.

John Luther
Director: Abhijith Joseph
Cast: Jayasurya, Deepak Parambol, Athmeeya Rajan, Siddique

One of the elements that the script uses to further the story, is the partial deafness that John sustains in an attack by the accused in another case. Though it is not shown to be hampering the investigation, the reduced hearing does bring about a change in the character’s demeanour, which is conveyed effectively. This is also weaved into the investigation, with the suspects or witnesses made to repeat things they have already said, or their voices being played again from a recorder he carries around.

The investigation itself is paced quite organically, with the series of crimes happening at intervals, leading to newer tangents, preventing our attention from wavering. But the quest for a not-so-easily guessable twist in the tale seems to have led the script to falter in the latter half, with the revelations on the killer’s motivations making us question the plausibility of such a scenario.

The portrayal of John is in such a way that he is hardly ever shown struggling to find clues. His struggles are within the family, where he is constantly questioned about his absence and the risks of his job. The three women characters have insignificant roles, having no independent existence and possessing relevance only with respect to the character of John.

John Luther is an evenly paced thriller that falters only in the last act, in an attempt to deliver a shocking twist.

John Luther is currently running in theatres

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