Luther: The Fallen Sun review – Cracking entertainment with a whiff of old-school Bond
Idris Elba returns as DCI John Luther for a bigger-scale adventure.
British cinema is littered with terrible TV-to-movie crossovers (Dad’s Army, Mrs Brown’s Boys… we could go on). Happily, Luther: The Fallen Sun is not one of them. The BBC drama, that ran for five seasons from 2010 to 2019 and cemented Idris Elba’s status as one of Britain’s most compelling actors, has long been mooted for a feature-length outing. Now, bowing on Netflix and in cinemas, Elba’s DCI John Luther is back, with creator Neil Cross penning a twisted screenplay that fans of the show will instantly recognise as very Luther-like.
If anything elevates The Fallen Sun, it’s the casting. Andy Serkis (The Batman) stars here as the antagonist, a vengeful psychotic man named David Robey. At the outset, he’s seen talking to an unknown contact, asking them to dig up any dirt on Luther. “I want everything on him,” he says. “I want his corruption… any line he’s crossed. I want his shame.” It clearly works. By the opening credits, Luther is being sent to jail for his Dirty Harry-style tactics, including breaking and entering and tampering with evidence.
The case Luther was involved in concerned a missing teen named Callum who, it transpires, Robey had been blackmailing over his “sexual predilections”. His mother, at her wits' end, is desperate to find him, and is led to a house where she finds Callum’s body, and others, all strung up. This is where it gets really dark, as the building sets ablaze and Robey stands gleefully outside, wearing a creepy digital mask that displays Callum’s face. The sort that gets off on his disturbing actions, Robey even sends recordings of the murders to all the families involved.
Leading the investigation now is Luther’s replacement, DCI Odette Raine (Widows star Cynthia Erivo). But when the incarcerated Luther is sent a teasing message by Robey, he can’t help but contact Raine, who initially has no desire to deal with this “dirty copper”. Then comes the inevitable prison break, with Luther now back out on the streets. He must stay ahead of Raine and his old boss Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley), brought in to track him down, whilst investigating Serkis’s tech-savvy madman who is pulling the strings with a network of hackers at his disposal.
The film truly notches up the action. One particularly outlandish set piece in Piccadilly Circus will have you wondering how on earth the production pulled it off, while you might never look at sports store Lillywhites the same way ever again. The snowbound finale, with Serkis’s character in a bunker-like lair, even gives the film a whiff of old-school James Bond. But despite Serkis’s slightly odd hairpiece, director Jamie Payne (who helmed several episodes of the Luther TV show) never lets it lapse into caricature.
Elba, who now has so much big-screen experience, effortlessly steers Luther through this bigger-scale adventure, while Erivo brings all her nous to the role of Raine, a woman who – like so many others – becomes a target of Robey’s. But it’s Serkis who steals every scene he’s in. “Do you think I can help being what I am?” he asks at one point, and there’s an insidious malevolence to his performance that’s really quite chilling, not least when he starts singing Diana Ross’s I’m Coming Out in a highly disturbing scene.
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With Payne utilising London’s locations admirably (tube fanatics will enjoy the Underground chase), it’s great to see a British film capable of Hollywood-level theatrics. Whether or not it leads to further instalments is hard to say, but if this is to be the last, it leaves DCI John Luther going out on a high. It’s thoroughly cracking entertainment.
Luther: The Fallen Sun is in cinemas now and on Netflix on Friday 10th March. Sign up for Netflix from £4.99 a month. Netflix is also available on Sky Glass and Virgin Media Stream.
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