Luther: The Fallen Sun is a Netflix Original Film based on the BBC series by Neil Cross and starring Idris Elba as the titular detective. When the film begins, John Luther is in jail as a whistleblower leaked his various infractions to the media. That whistleblower is tech magnate David Robey (Andy Serkis), who is now free to commit a gruesome string of murders using his vast resources. Luther escapes jail and sets out to take Robey down once and for all. But matters aren’t helped by the fact that he’s being chased by his former allies in the law, including DCI Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo).
Making a film that continues the events of a beloved television series is a tricky endeavor. You have to craft a story that appeals to those who watched the show and newcomers in the audience. And you have to make it truly feel like a movie and less like an extended episode of that series. Sometimes it pays off, and sometimes it doesn’t. Luther: The Fallen Sun falls into the former category, thanks to Cross penning the script. Cross spent five seasons in Luther’s head, so he knows how the character thinks — and how to press his buttons. Luther’s ironclad sense of justice means that he cannot let any criminal go unpunished and will go to any lengths to see justice be done. And that continues in The Fallen Sun, as he traverses the globe in hot pursuit of Robey.
Elba’s also helped define Luther to the point where it may be his most defining role. And he throws himself back into that role with a vengeance. Sequences, where he exerts information out of a witness by dangling them off a roof or engages in a fistfight with his fellow prisoners, are extremely intense to the point where I could feel my heartbeat slamming in my ears. And Elba greatly uses his height — he towers over nearly everyone in the cast. But it’s not all anger; there are a few quiet moments where Luther can bear his soul to others, especially his former comrade Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley). Having spent nearly a decade with this character, it’s no wonder that Elba can find new depths within Luther to plumb.
The real star of the film, however, is Serkis. He plays Robey with twisted glee, to the point where he wouldn’t be out of place in Gotham City. A key example comes from a phone call between Robey and Luther toward the film’s midpoint. It’s very, very unnerving to see Serkis’ eyes dance around as he taunts Luther with the knowledge of the things he’s about to do, and what’s even worse is that he follows through on said threats. And while most films that attempt to tackle the use of surveillance come across as heavy-handed, Robey’s actions make it clear that the tech isn’t the problem. It’s the person who chooses to wield it. Sadly, Ervio is the cast member that comes across as underserved; there’s not much more for her to play than “the cop/roadblock” that’s become a staple of thrillers like these.
Director Jamie Payne and cinematographer Larry Smith match Cross’ words with plenty of striking imagery, including shots of Luther stalking through the snowy mountains of Norway. But their piece de resistance is the jailbreak sequence. Luther douses a mattress in kerosene and sets it alight, charging through dozens of brawling inmates. Payne switches to a handheld format for this scene, adding a chaotic element as Luther smashes through body after body. Lorne Balfe’s percussive score only elevates the tension. If you watch the film for one sequence alone, make it that one.
Luther: The Fallen Sun delivers a film experience worthy of its titular detective, testing his drive for justice and giving him a foe who might as well be his match. If you’re into dark, brooding detectives, then this movie is for you. If you’ve watched Luther since its inception, this movie is definitely for you. And it’s proof that when Elba is paired with the right creatives, he can truly shine.
Luther: The Fallen Sun is currently playing in select theaters and will be available to stream on Netflix on March 10.
Luther: The Fallen Sun
- Rating - 8.5/108.5/10
Luther: The Fallen Sun delivers a film experience worthy of its titular detective, testing his drive for justice and giving him a foe who might as well be his match.
Born and raised in Texas, Collier “CJ” Jennings was introduced to geekdom at an early age by his father, who showed him Ultraman and Star Trek: The Next Generation. On his thirteenth birthday, he received a copy of Giant Size X-Men #1 and dove head first into the realm of pop culture, never looking back. His hobbies include: writing screenplays and essays, watching movies and television, card games/RPG’s, and cooking. He currently resides in Seattle.