‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ is an Enjoyable Continuation of the TV Series
Idris Elba triumphantly returns as DCI John Luther, who after being convicted for his past sins, must escape from prison in order to stop a serial killer.
Opening in select theaters on February 24th and premiering on Netflix beginning March 10th is the film version of the popular British TV series ‘Luther,’ which is entitled ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ and was directed by Jamie Payne and written by series creator Neil Cross.
What Happened on the 'Luther' Series?
‘Luther’ is a series that ran for five seasons on the BBC and starred Idris Elba as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther of the Serious Crime Unit. Luther is a brilliant and dedicated police officer, who is also obsessive and sometimes violent. After being suspended for the way he apprehends a child murderer, Luther returns to the squad and soon investigates a psychopath named Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson), who he thinks murdered her parents.
Over the next five seasons, Luther and Alice play a cat and mouse game where she often helps the detective, not unlike Hannibal Lector and Clarice Starling in ‘The Silence of the Lambs.’ Along the way, Luther’s obsession with catching criminals is tested by the trail of death left in his wake that has included his wife Zoe (Indira Varma), his partner Justin Ripley (Warren Brown), and colleague Benny (Michael Smiley). Season five ended with the murder of his new partner Catherine Halliday (Wunmi Mosaku) in cold blood by Alice, and Luther being arrested for the crime after Alice’s supposed death.
Luther: The Fallen Sun
Is 'Luther: The Fallen Sun' a Sequel and What is the Plot?
Yes, ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ is a sequel to the series and picks up after the events of season five, where Luther has been apparently cleared of Halliday’s murder. Luther’s superintendent, Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley), assigns him to the case of a gruesome serial killer named David Robey (Andy Serkis). The killer is using private cyber information to blackmail victims into committing crimes for him.
Robey soon realizes that Luther is a threat to his overall plans, and frames the detective for his past questionable behavior, sending him to prison so Robey can continue his despicable work. But when Robey begins taunting Luther behind bars, Luther plans an elaborate prison escape so he can stop Robey. Meanwhile, the new leader of the Serious Crime Unit, DCI Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo) enlists Schenk to help her catch Luther and Robey. With the police after him and nowhere to turn, Luther must rely on his instincts to elude the police and catch Robey before he can complete his murderous plans.
Who is in the Cast of 'Luther: The Fallen Sun?'
'Luther: The Fallen Sun’ stars Golden Globe and Emmy winner Idris Elba once again reprising his role as John Luther, and Dermot Crowley also returns as Martin Schenk, while the film features new cast members such as Oscar-nominee Cynthia Erivo (‘Harriet’) as DCI Odette Raine, and Andy Serkis (‘The Batman’) as David Robey.
The result is a very compelling and entertaining film adaption of the TV series, that is still completely enjoyable if you’ve never seen the show, but also fits in enough callbacks and Easter eggs for fans that have seen all five seasons. Neil Cross and Jamie Payne have successfully adapted the best parts of the series into a fast-paced theatrical movie, but its Idris Elba’s brilliant performance in his signature role that makes it truly worth seeing.
Film Adaption, Writing and Directing
While the first season of ‘Luther’ contained six episodes, most of the following seasons of the series have only had two to four episodes, which is probably why the show lends itself so well to a cinematic adaption. Jamie Payne directed the fifth season, and his work here is a continuation of what he started on the show, clearly understanding this story and its main character. Series creator Neil Cross wrote the script, and the villain he created for this movie, David Robey, is probably the best the series has seen since Alice Morgan.
But Cross wisely doesn’t reinvent the wheel, rather he builds off of the five previous seasons that has led the character of Luther to the place we find him at the start of the movie. The series has always taken inspiration from the classic detective show ‘Columbo,’ where the killer and their crimes are revealed at the beginning of the episode, and the fun is watching Peter Falk’s character solve the crime.
The film does the same, introducing us to Robey in the opening moments, and beginning his rivalry with Luther. Those not familiar with the series might see this as an odd way to open the film, but it is in line with the series, and both Cross and Payne pull it off creating a real cinematic tone.
While ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ does work as a standalone movie, it is also extremely rewarding for fans of the series, and those who have watched all five seasons will definitely have a stronger emotional tie to the film. For example, when Dermot Crowley’s Martin Schenk is told that Luther has escaped and is no longer in prison, his tired response, “Of course he's not,” will ring truer for those familiar with John and Martin’s long friendship.
But new viewers should be aware, the first 10 minutes of the movie runs at lightning speed. In those opening moments, we are introduced to Robey and his crimes, Luther, Robey wanting to frame Luther, then Luther being arrested, tried, and convicted for his past crimes. Again, this all moves very quickly, as it needs to because we can’t have Luther in prison for the entire movie.
As a fan, this all works because we’ve seen the other five seasons of the series. Luther cut some corners and did some questionable things, so the pace in which he is arrested and sentenced, while still quick, makes more sense because we know the history of the show. But for those meeting Luther for the first time with ‘Fallen Sun,’ the beginning of the movie may move too fast for some to follow.
Related Article: First Images of Idris Elba in the ‘Luther’ Movie
Is Luther back?
Yes he is, and so is Idris Elba, the actor that played him for five seasons on the series. Elba has become a bona fide movie star thanks to films like ‘Thor,’ ‘Pacific Rim,’ ‘The Suicide Squad,’ ‘Fast & Furious: Hobbs & Shaw,’ and ‘Beast,’ but for fans of the BBC series, his signature role will always be as John Luther. Elba eases back into the part (and Luther’s wool coat), and is completely commanding as the character.
Luther has always been led by his moral compass, and will do whatever it takes for justice, however, this has led him to make some questionable choices in the past, that almost always leads to the death of a loved one. With Luther being sent to prison in ‘The Fallen Sun,’ it allows the character to reflect on his past choices and face the reckoning of his decisions. But, in true Luther fashion, he doesn’t spend a lot of time on self-reflection, and instead focusses on stopping Robey, even if that is not his job anymore.
No matter how smart the story, or how good the villain, the series and in-turn the movie would not work if not for Elba’s cool and multi-layered performance. Elba works well facing off against both Erivo and Serkis’ characters, but fans will really enjoy his scenes reuniting with Dermot Crowley and strengthening the relationship between John and Martin.
Who is the killer in ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun?’
Andy Serkis plays David Robey, a tech billionaire and serial killer who uses surveillance technology to manipulate and kill civilians. Robey is a great ‘Luther’ advisory, and the best since Wilson’s Alice. He is also the “reckoning” that audiences have been waiting for, as he is the man that actually makes John Luther face the mistakes of his past. He is also a real threat to the citizens of London, making the urgency for Luther to escape from prison and stop him, all that more important.
Serkis is clearly having a lot of fun playing this evil character, and it’s probably the actor’s best villain portrayal since Gollum in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ movies. While Robey is clearly crazy and very menacing, Serkis also injects the character with vulnerabilities and a God complex, that makes him very interesting to watch. He has fantastic chemistry with Elba and Erivo, especially in the final moments of the film.
Oscar-nominee Cynthia Erivo is good as DCI Odette Raine, but the character falls into a similar trap as other ‘Luther’ adversaries from past seasons. She doesn’t agree with Luther’s methods and thinks he’s a “dirty cop,” so we spend half of the movie wondering when she will realize that working with Luther is the only way to stop Robey, and that Luther is not the real villain here. It’s a frustrating role for Erivo to play, but she pulls it off as best she can.
But fans of the series will be delighted to see Dermot Crowley return as Martin Schenk, the only other surviving member of the first season along with Luther. Crowley clearly knows this character, and Martin’s love, respect and understanding of Luther comes shining through. Martin is literally John’s only friend left alive, and the only person who truly understands the ordeal John has been through, mostly by his own choices. That respect is felt through the character, and some of the best scenes are between Crowley and Elba.
Will Alice Morgan be in ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun?’
Unfortunately, the short answer is no. Not only does Ruth Wilson not appear in ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun,’ but Alice Morgan is not even mentioned, which I think is for the best. Wilson and Elba had fantastic onscreen chemistry together and Alice was certainly a very important part of the series, but as a fan, I think her time has gone.
As a character she was a bad influence on Luther and often encouraged him to stop doing what he does best, which is be a detective. From a storytelling stand point, there was not much left to do with the character, and she was starting to become a detriment to the show. While it seems that she is dead, you never really know with Alice, but I do hope they don’t bring her back again. ‘Fallen Sun’ ends with an interesting way that the character could live on in sequels, becoming more like a James Bond, and I’d hate to see that ruined by the unnecessary return of Alice Morgan.
In the end, ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ is an extremely enjoyable standalone ‘Luther’ movie and maybe one of the best examples of a film adaption of a TV show capturing the magic of the original. Fans of the series will be rewarded for their loyalty to the show, and new audiences will be captivated by Idris Elba’s complicated hero, and Andy Serkis’ reprehensible villain.
‘Luther: The Fallen Sun’ receives 9 out of 10 stars.
Other Movies Similar to ‘Luther: The Fallen Sun:’
- 'Bullitt' (1968)
- 'Dirty Harry' (1971)
- 'Die Hard' (1988)
- ‘Takers' (2010)
- ‘The Losers' (2010)
- 'Pacific Rim' (2013)
- 'Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw' (2019)
- ‘The Suicide Squad' (2021)
- 'The Harder They Fall' (2021)
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'Luther: The Fallen Sun' is produced by BBC Film, Chernin Entertainment and Netflix, and is scheduled for release on Netflix March 10th.