When his maverick ways catch up with him, DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) is sent to prison following a controversial and highly-publicised trial. His unit is now commanded by Odette Raine (Cynthia Ervio) and when a psychopath with a penchant for blackmail and live streaming (Andy Serkis) begins to terrorise London, John Luther must do what he does best to stop him before it's too late...
While the Beeb has always been reliably smart and prudent with turning its shows into feature-length movies, you get the sense in ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ that everyone let go of the guardrails and gave into Netflix’s endless pools of cash.
‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ is essentially a tarted-up, big-budget version of the grim BBC series, and watching it feels like the director and the producers were drunk on money. There are endless drone shots of London at night, along with gleaming corridors of marbled white and plenty of expensive cars. Idris Elba hangs out on rooftops like he’s Batman, and there’s even a triumphant blast of music when he finds his old coat again. The series that chugged along for nine years now looks and feels like it’s been given a superhero blockbuster budget, but its ambitions are still the same.
Idris Elba, playing this character now for well over a decade, doesn’t have to work terribly hard to convince you of anything so instead he’s become an action hero. He’s running around London, knocking people out with his fists, paying off criminals to do his dirty work, and generally being the maverick copper we know and love. Dermot Crowley, likewise, returns as the prayerful Martin Schenk, shaking his head at Luther’s antics but knowing he gets the job done like always. Newcomer to the Lutherverse is Cynthia Erivo, who plays the exact opposite of Luther - a by-the-book, ruthlessly efficient, data-driven copper. Quelle surprise, she ends up growing to respect Luther’s methods.
Like all detective shows, ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ rises and falls on the efforts and talents of its villain. Andy Serkis is an actor who displays great subtlety and outsized theatricality. There’s zero middle ground for him. You look at him in something like ‘The Batman’ or ‘Andor’, and there’s so much nuance and texture in his performance. Yet here in ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’, it’s like he’s trying to act out past whatever CGI visage is in front of him - except it isn’t unless you consider a ropey-looking hairpiece as CGI. Serkis’ performance borders on comical in parts, to say nothing of his whole thing being kind of daft. Live-streaming, it seems, is made up of perverts and sadist voyeurs. Who knew?
‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ has its moments, and Idris Elba has a real presence as Luther on screen. Yet the script, by Neil Cross, doesn’t exactly make much use of it. Sure, it’s going for pulpy crime action thrills and it gets most of it, but you get the sense that ‘The Fallen Sun’ was written as a sixth season and was collapsed down into a movie script instead. While there’s atmosphere and tension, the whole thing blasts along at such a clip that you’re just bombarded with plot and given little in the way of character development.
Fans of the original series will undoubtedly get a kick out of seeing the character back in action again with a big budget, but ‘The Fallen Sun’ has little to offer anyone else beyond flashy visuals and stock characters doing their thing.