Luther: The Fallen Sun sees the return of the disgraced detective, this time in a Netflix-made feature film. Coming 4 years after the end of the fifth series, which wrapped things up rather neatly, it was a surprise to see Luther making a comeback. And to be frank, he should’ve stayed in prison.
The film starts not long after the events of the fifth series, as we see Callum Aldridge called out of his cleaning job by a sinister voice threatening to reveal his secrets to his family. On route to the location specified, Callum encounters a car accident with a body lying in the road. After calling for emergency services, he is abducted by the body that was lying on the ground just moments ago. The next morning DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) and DSU Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley) attend the scene, with Luther promising Corinne, Callum’s mother (Hattie Morahan), that he’ll find her son, unbeknownst to them being watched by the perpetrator himself David Robey (Andy Serkis).
Robey is determined to prevent Luther from keeping his promise, digging up all of Luther’s misdeeds and corruption, leading to Luther being jailed for his many crimes. Years later while Luther is in prison, Robey lures Corinne and the parents of other victims to a remote house to find their children’s corpses, before he burns them all. Robey then proceeds to taunt Luther by sending him a recording of Callum dying, which Luther in turn reports to new Chief Detective Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo).
After Raine refuses to listen to Luther’s advice, he proceeds to break out of prison in a bid to track down Robey. Raine meanwhile enlists the help of the now retired Schenk to help capture Luther, all while Robey’s antics escalate and the bodies begin to stack up.
Prior to watching this, I rewatched all 5 series of the show, and to be honest I wish I hadn’t as this film, aside from having the same characters, feels nothing like the show. The show was dark, gritty, gruesome and often pretty downright creepy, and there’s nothing like that here. The opening scenes promise it, but from then on it just never delivers. The main problem lies with Andy Serkis’ baddy Robey and the fact that he comes across as a cheesy 80’s Bond-style villain whose motives are decidedly confused and wishy-washy. It’s never logically explained why he’s really doing what he’s doing, and this just contributes to the film’s downfall. It’s a shame for Serkis as he can play a good baddy, just here he isn’t given the material.
The Luther series has always been a little on the ridiculous side, but despite that, it’s never felt over the top and has always kept its realistic gritty edge. There were aspects of the Luther series that were so sinister and creepy that they were the stuff of nightmares, paired with bloody, gruesome crime scenes that managed to stay on the right side of disgusting. The Fallen Sun however has very much been ‘Hollywoodised’, it feels too slick, too grand and far overreaches what we’d expect from the characters. A perfect example is when Erivo’s Raine takes out a small handgun exactly like you’d see detectives in the US carrying, but the Police in the UK don’t carry guns. While guns have featured in Luther before, they were always obviously dodgy and from criminals and this film just seems to forget key aspects of police procedures, which the series did so well, in favour of a ridiculous plotline. And the fact that the finale plays out in Norway says it all. There’s nothing sinister or gruesome about this film at all, instead, we get some okay action sequences and some rather unnecessary and poor CGI.
Even Idris Elba, who has always played Luther so brilliantly, isn’t given much to work with – the hardened, conflicted and violent Luther is barely recognisable here. Cynthia Erivo is a great addition, although I think that’s possibly more to do with Erivo’s talents in general rather than her character in this. By far the best thing about this film for me was the friendship and relationship between Luther and Schenk. Schenk was someone I disliked at first in the series but grew to love, and it was good to see his repartee with Luther continued in the film, bringing some genuinely heartfelt and fun moments. But sadly these aren’t enough.
Luther: The Fallen Sun is a poor relation to the original series, bringing nothing new to the character or story. What should have been a dark, gritty return of a beloved character, has instead been turned into a generic Hollywood mess that is best avoided.
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I’m not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills – Bake Off here I come!