Synopsis: Brilliant but disgraced detective John Luther breaks out of prison to hunt down a sadistic serial killer who is terrorizing London.
Stars: Idris Elba, Cynthia Erivo, Andy Serkis, Dermot Crowley, Jess Liaudin, Lauryn Ajufo, Natasha Patel, Henry Hereford
Director: Jamie Payne
Running Length: 129 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: Over twenty episodes between 2010-2019, star Idris Elba led audiences through the dark world of Detective Chief Inspector John Luther in the eponymous television series for the BBC. Tracking serial killers and other sordid criminals, Luther also dealt with demons from his past and a slinky psycho who became obsessed with him and took their cat-and-mouse game to terrifying extremes. As Elba’s fame began to heat up, there was little time for more Luther, and eventually, creator Neil Cross announced that the series was over. Ah, but you can’t keep a good DCI down, and now Cross and Elba have reteamed, returning for Luther: The Fallen Sun, a feature-length trek through another sadistic nightmare.
As we rejoin the world of DCI Luther, he’s promised a young mother that he’ll find the person responsible for the brutal murder of her son. The young man’s body was found among a group of deceased individuals, and we already know that David Robey (Andy Serkis, The Batman) is the mastermind behind it all. Still, just as Luther is getting close, his rival finds a way to send him to prison, allowing his devious game to continue. As more victims pile up and Robey toys with Luther stuck in a cell, Luther attempts to work through his old friend DSU Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley, Octopussy) and current lead investigator DCI Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo, Harriet) before breaking out and doing it his way. The ensuing pursuit will test Luther’s limit beyond anything he’s encountered before because Robey is curiously one step ahead of them all.
For his part, Elba (Concrete Cowboy) slips effortlessly back into the recognizably comfy coat Luther sports and plunges back into his psyche. Nominated for four Emmys (and winning the Critics’ Choice Television Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for his performance), this is truly the role of Elba’s career, and he knows it. I think Cross has come up with a dandy script too. Often tense and gruesome, frequently scary, because we identify Robey early on, it’s perhaps less of a puzzle than previous Luther chapters have been. I ultimately missed the crackle of Luther having a genuinely equal opponent or partner to work with. As strong supporting players, Serkis and Erivo do what they can, but something is missing in their limited time to develop.
Ultimately, what keeps Luther: The Fallen Sun from rising too high is its director. Jamie Payne is most notable for his work in television, and there’s an odd lack of energy as the film moves into its final act, just when it should be picking up its most significant momentum. It’s too bad, too, because there’s a nifty location set-up for Luther’s confrontation with Robey, but Payne stages it with such a clumsy hand that there’s never much excitement to draw from.
Four years was a long time to wait for another check-in with Luther, and I hope we don’t have to sit around as long for the next case to come in. Now that this feature has been produced by Netflix and streamed on the service, perhaps Elba can be talked into a few more films or a limited series again. For now, I’m grateful to bask in the warm rays of Luther: The Fallen Sun, even if it occasionally has a few clouds roll by.