‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ movie review: Idris Elba fights a monstrous villain in an average series sequel

Idris Elba once again proves that he doesn’t need to be James Bond when he’s John Luther, but the film seems more like yet another episode of the series that is scaled up for the big screen

March 11, 2023 06:34 pm | Updated 07:12 pm IST

Idris Elba as Luther in ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’

Idris Elba as Luther in ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ | Photo Credit: Netflix

It’s been four years since his complicated relationship with Alice Morgan brought John Luther to his knees and got him arrested. But poor John, once again, can’t stop to grieve or sulk as he has yet another psychopath on loose, certainly the most gruesome he has ever faced.

Here’s a quick recap of season five to jolt your memory: DCI John Luther (Idris Elba), while pursuing a case, crosses paths with rick prick gangster George Cornelius (Patrick Malahide) who believes that Luther kidnapped his son. Alice (Ruth Wilson) who was written off as dead, comes back and kills Cornelius’s son, and things go wrong. Cornelius kidnaps Alice and other close friends of Luther... and executes one of them (poor Benny). Eventually, Luther strikes a deal with Cornelius and saves his friends. But this pisses off Alice who unsuccessfully attempts to shoot up Cornelius, kills DS Catherine Halliday (Wunmi Mosaku) and eventually falls to her death from an under-construction building after a duel with Luther. Detective Superintendent Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley) arrives with his team to arrest Luther, thanks to Cornelius’ scheme to frame him.

Luther: The Fallen Sun is a film continuation of the BBC series, and it picks up from when Luther was sent to prison. However, the makers have changed things a bit to take forward the narrative. We are told that Luther wasn’t arrested at the construction site by Schenk, but that he was arrested while pursuing a new case instead: the kidnapping of a young man named Callum Aldrich. This is surely a bumpy start as the series finale left us with quite a stirring picture of Luther being cuffed. Yet, a new case is what was certainly needed and the series didn’t leave enough threads to be pulled for a movie.

Luther: The Fallen Sun (English)
Director: Jamie Payne
Cast: Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Cynthia Erivo, Dermot Crowley
Runtime: 129 minutes
Storyline: Disgraced detective John Luther is forced to break out of prison and stay away from the clutches of the law enforcements to nab a new, most dangerous serial killer

The new case centres on a serial killer, David Robey (Andy Serkis). David has kidnapped people over the years, hidden them in secret places or stored their bodies after killing them. In the present day, he decides to put on a show for the loved ones of these victims; they arrive at a specific location where the bodies of the victims hang from the ceiling before being set on fire.

One of the deceased was Callum Aldrich, who Luther was pursuing. Luther is confronted by the victim’s loved one for not keeping the promise (Luther didn’t learn from season four’s Megan Cantor). And with David taunting Luther, he hatches out a prison escape plan. The fight choreography in this scene is truly outstanding. On the investigation front, it’s all plain and expected — there’s a mole inside the station, Schenk is called for help, and the new DCI, Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo), despises Luther and is more concerned about him than the killer.

Meanwhile, the identity of the serial killer is revealed right at the beginning, making it more of a cat-and-mouse game than a whodunit; an idea that was as impressive as it was in the show as it is in the movie. Andy Serkis’s David Robey uses the ugliest secrets of people to blackmail them and get his job done. As it is revealed, he uses it to put on a show, inside a Red Room of sorts, for dark net users to watch live-streaming of ghastly violent crimes.

Robey also takes the cake as the Luther villain with the most body count. However, the story doesn’t render him any good as he turns out to be a pretty one-note villain. We see that something unfortunate happened to his wife, who on the other hand, says that he was a good man. This thread is disappointingly used in an elementary fashion instead of digging further into his psyche.

Luther is a series that is known for playing around with the format, having been able to tell a story in two episodes (fourth season)or six (first season). In The Fallen Sun, the makers are trying to see if they could tell it over the same duration that two episodes take, but as a film it is stripped of all the cushioning that television offers. It needs to have an engaging narrative and a taut screenplay, all the while championing the character of Luther, and yet retaining its distinctiveness.

The choice to make a sequel film seems fascinating, especially given that the world of Luther is never short of surprises. The film is definitely larger in scale thanks to more budget, and Idris Elba’s Luther needed to come out of the small screen. However, the story still feels something akin to an episode of the show. Yes, Luther is still Luther, and we see nuggets of great action sequences and moments that remind us of why we cheered for him in the first place.

But there are too many missteps in its two-hour runtime. Further, some very predictive turns make it a regular rogue police actioner and a rudimentary sequel. At one point, when the characters go to a snowy mountain, you wish they don’t get on ski jets and chase each other.

All that said, Elba is a beast as Luther and one can’t wait to see where he takes this character going forward; once again, he proves that he doesn’t need to become James Bond. He’s John Luther.

Luther: The Fallen Sun is currently streaming on Netflix

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