Luther: The Fallen Sun
Cast: Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Cynthia Erivo, Dermot Crowley
Director: Jamie Payne
Luther: The Fallen Sun is a vociferous crime thriller featuring the screen-filling presence of Idris Elba back in his trusty tight-fitting tweed coat - plus cartoon character Andy Serkis as a be-wigged supervillain in his over-teched hideaway. Fans of Luther will need to make up their minds if this Netflix-produced feature captures what is loved in the BBC tv series. Those who are new to Big John would do well to get updated on the several series on streaming sites, as they are all exceptional. Although you don’t need a fully catalogued history to get into the character, nobody will get completely lost starting their viewing with this film version.
Detective John Luther (Idris Elba) finds himself haunted by cyber serial killer David Robey (Andy Serkis), whose connections and intricate plotting ensure that the detective ends up in prison while on the case of Robey’s last victim. After a slightly implausible break-out from the nick, Luther continues his obsessive drive to finish the case. All this time, he is being closely monitored by his former boss Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley) and new Detective, Superintendent Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo). Director Jamie Payne works hard to give things for the bigger screen more of a sense of scale and some clever compositions do help in providing a cinematic feel - and while the film’s action may not be the most substantial, it holds the ambition of what one would expect from such a feature. However, far too often, the film’s thin characterisation and cumbersome narrative rhythm hold Luther back from being more than the film could be, as much of the story feels truncated. However, The Fallen Sun does have enough in it to show why the original series has such a well-loved status. The character of John Luther is enormously persuasive and this is mainly down to how Elba portrays him as a copper who skirts the law for results. Elba’s screen presence here is genuinely compelling. Andy Serkis’ turn as a twisted serial killer is solid, although his character trying to make The Supremes unnerving is a misstep and doesn’t come off at all. While this is a performance that the actor could do in his sleep, it’s gratifying to see him take up the role. Unfortunately, the stone-faced display from Cynthia Erivo is the film’s biggest casting miscalculation as she struggles to give a rather thankless character any strong reason for us to care. In addition to the cast, the film’s central set pieces are genuinely enjoyable. A busy Piccadilly Circus sequence involving filmed victims falling from the top of buildings has an intense and deeply disquieting atmosphere. As does a gruesome visual of hanging bodies used as bait inside an empty London mansion. The finale’s excursion to Iceland is also quite welcoming, providing an element of respite from the claustrophobic streets of London. Unfortunately, the film takes quite some time for the action to finally get there, but there’s just enough on the film’s surface to keep the journey entertaining. Setting aside John Luther’s odd access to vast piles of readies, his inhuman ability to tolerate brutal injury or the bewildering capabilities of mobile phones underwater, there’s more than enough in Luther: The Fallen Sun to ensure a franchise could well be born for the cinema screen.