The film follow-up to the Luther TV series, Luther: The Fallen Sun, is now streaming, but should you watch it?
Four years after the final episode of the Luther TV series, Idris Elba and company are back for another high-profile case.
A co-production between Netflix & BBC, Luther: The Fallen Sun is the long-awaited execution of an idea for a standalone Luther movie that started with initial scripts back in 2013. As fans of the series know, the show continued until 2019, which delayed the plans for the film until it was announced in 2020 and shooting starting in the Fall of 2021.
In order to capture the essence of the show, Luther showrunner Neil Cross (known for The Mosquito Coast) penned the script & produced the project while tapping season 5 director, Jamie Payne, to match the tone and visual language of what made the series successful.
Although it was imperative that Idris Elba return as hardboiled detective John Luther, the film also brought back show regular Dermot Crowley to reprise his role as DSU Martin Schenk. Alongside Elba and Crowley, the cast is bolstered by prominent actors such as Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo (Harriet, Widows) and franchise necessity Andy Serkis, who has been the key villain for the cinematic universes of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and the MCU’s Black Panther.
After 5 seasons of bending the rules, losing many loved ones, and wrestling with his own existence, The Fallen Sun opens with an emotionally damaged Luther being brought in on the case of a missing young man Callum Aldrich, who disappeared after calling the police. The man behind the disappearance of Callum grows concerned with Luther’s involvement and digs up enough dirt on his past exploits during his career to get him fired, prosecuted, and sent to prison. After receiving a transmission from this new serial killer while in captivity, Luther must break out of prison to go on the hunt for this new terror roving the streets of London.
While the main plot and new killer don’t have any connection to the TV series, this film does rely on prior knowledge to truly understand and enjoy the character of Luther. His enhanced interrogation style, his penchant for working with criminals and killers to get what he wants, and the casualties he’s lost from operating in the grey are all quite vital when trying to understand why he goes to jail or why he is so eager to put his life on the line for people he doesn’t know.
However, the film does just enough to stand alone and gives a level of striking visuals and deadly stakes to keep the audience engaged even if you haven’t seen every moment from the TV series. The story utilizes an omnipresent, wealthy, and devious mastermind in Serkis’ David Robey who seems to have the motive and means to blackmail and terrorize at will. The paranoia mixed with such dark levels of destruction and devastation is what makes the threat so real and persistent for much of the film. Scenes like the discovery of the hanging bodies at the mansion and the suicides at Piccadilly Circus make the film more macabre than most serialized detective shows and amps up the cinematic quality for a show trying to level up.
While there is enough here to satisfy most viewers, there are some lesser elements that could send die-hards back to catching re-runs.
Without the wild card element of someone like Alice Morgan or the potential pitfalls of Luther losing yet another person in his life that truly matters, the film has to focus on a very straightforward cat-and-mouse story with a lot of reliance on performances to carry the load.
While some of the set pieces of murders and suicides are compelling, Andy Serkis’s performance seemed to never measure up. His standard motives of being cast out of society for his devilish nature are more basic than you’d hope for the cinematic upgrade and Serkis does not seem to be suited for a more menacing type. As the film progresses towards its frozen backdrop conclusion, it becomes more and more evident that the lack of connection and chemistry between Luther and Serkis holds the film back and the lesser stakes personally for Luther make the plot thinner than its icy setting.
Overall, Luther: The Fallen Sun has enough visual flair and persistent threats from its villain to make for a satisfying enough film to satiate the desire of fans to see Elba adopt the Luther character once more. However, with a lack of personal connection and stakes for Luther and an underwhelming performance from Serkis, the story can only take us so far.
Watch Luther: The Fallen Sun If You Like
- True Detective
- The Equalizer
- Perry Mason
MVP of Luther: The Fallen Sun
Idris Elba as John Luther.
No shock here. He is the movie as much as he is the show. From his fight scene prowess in the prison sequence to his daring heroics in the frozen tundra, Idris Elba showed us all that he hasn’t missed a step.
PLAY, PAUSE, OR STOP?
Fans of the show and novices alike should get something out of their viewing experience. However, fans might be used to something a little deeper and more complex.