Directed by: Jamie Payne
Distributed by: Netflix
Written by Alexander Reams
Elba’s turn as the detective John Luther has long been lauded as a great pulp noir detective akin to Bogart in the 1940s, the comparisons are warranted, his gruff nature and ability to turn the word “no” into “fine go ahead” is unmatched. We find Luther in prison after being targeted by a serial killer and exposed for breaking the law at the beginning of “The Fallen Sun.” Luther’s difficulties with following the rules have long been a plot point within the series and usually morph into a major subplot over the course of a season.
As any fan of the show, or how plots work, would know, Luther eventually escapes prison. He dons his iconic suit and overcoat and stands over the skyline of London as if a superhero has returned. While not mythological in prowess, his name does carry weight and brings the return of Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley), Luther’s former boss, now retired in the interim between Season 4 and 5. His return is not necessary to the plot, and his existence is relegated to doing precisely what he did during the show. His arc is snubbed in favor of a great supporting turn by Cynthia Erivo as DCI Odette Raine. Raine and Luther butt heads as expected and their back and forth is entertaining, but it doesn’t carry the same weight that the banter between Ruth Wilson and Elba had during the show’s run. This also falls into the editing room. Justine Wright is no rookie in the suite and while her work during the scenes with Serkis and the assembly of Luther’s time in prison is well done, it’s the conversations within the police station that can feel rushed at times, then dragged out, making those intervals feel uneven and drawing focus away from the detective we all came to see.
“Luther: The Fallen Sun” is a competent film, it succeeds in its cat-and-mouse game between Elba and Serkis but is mired in its own filth. Obsessed with the acts that Serkis commits in the name of being “seen” despite being a billionaire who literally can get his hands on whatever he wants. It’s tired and feels like it, Serkis is menacing through facial coordination but the horrendous wig he adorns himself with does no favors for taking him seriously, which results in a mixed feeling that doesn’t fit within the world that Payne and company have established. The visual language that Smith and Wright communicate through is meshed together serviceably by Payne, but it’s not consistent. Despite the return to the character that gave the world Idris Elba, “Luther” is a mess, but a damn good-looking one.
“Luther: The Fallen Sun” Trailer