THE STORY – A serial killer terrorizes London while disgraced detective John Luther sits behind bars. Haunted by his failure to capture the cyber psychopath who now taunts him, Luther decides to break out of prison to finish the job by any means necessary.
THE CAST – Idris Elba, Cynthia Erivo, Andy Serkis, Dermot Crowley, Thomas Coombes, Lauryn Ajufo & Hattie Morahan
THE TEAM – Jamie Payne (Director) & Neil Cross (Writer)
THE RUNNING TIME – 130 Minutes
The film noir genre has dramatically influenced how present-day audiences perceive criminals and those working for the law to pursue those who commit these heinous crimes. From murders to kidnappings to terrorist attacks, the genre has given us a closer look at the psychology of these people from the perspectives of both the heroes and the villains of the story, with vital social commentary showing a pessimistic side of storytelling to American audiences. “Luther: The Fallen Sun,” a continuation of the 2010–19 British television series of the same name, is another hard-boiled addition to this ever-growing and evolving genre.
Following the Emmy-nominated BBC crime drama, “Luther: The Fallen Sun” finds John Luther (Idris Elba), a straightforward and persistent British detective whose only goal is to hunt down the man who not only put him in jail but who taunts him with the death of his victims. Idris Elba once again serves this character well with another solid performance, delivering a sense of complexity to this character, being a man of specialty and talent in what he does but also showing a dark — and, in a way, unlawful — side of the coin to his personality and methods of seeking justice. Elba’s presence is the main thing that keeps an engaging feeling within the tedious and, at times, dull first act before the film starts cooking with gas in its second act. The rest of the ensemble also offers suitable supporting roles that add to Luther’s feature-length journey.
Andy Serkis shows up with an eerie performance as David Robey, the film’s primary villain. Serkis manages to capture the sadistic and cynical nature that the script gives him, being the leader of this dark web culture, extracting the hypocrisy and hidden secrets of those in authority and those who judge people like him. A sense of accountability is expressed through his character and the victims he makes examples of. In some ways, this makes for a well-layered villain who possesses both physical and mental challenges for Luther. In other ways, Serkis elevates the character to be more grand and intimidating, with his on-screen power and presence, especially in the third act when the explanation of his character’s motivation turns out to be somewhat surface-level and not as thought-provoking or compelling as it initially presented itself to be. But, the overall attention to detail of the character, from what makes him tick to his passing off as an ordinary innocent man to even his choice of weapons in combat (knives), makes him an interesting enough villain to get us invested in the story.
Cynthia Erivo is another bright spot in this ensemble. She portrays Odette Raine, the new sheriff in town who starts as a secondary antagonist to the wanted Luther. As the film goes on, it’s discovered that this case becomes personal for Luther and Odette. This gives Erivo some tremendous dramatic work in the film’s second half and a solid story arc of her learning the values of trust. Dermot Crowley as Martin Schenk (Luther’s retired police friend) and Hattie Morahan as Cornnie Aldrich (one of the victim’s grieving mothers) offer a nice balance to the rich ensemble in this cat-and-mouse thriller.
Regarding technical craftsmanship, “Luther: The Fallen Sun” can sometimes be a bit hit or miss when transitioning to the big screen (unless you’re watching at home on Netflix). Larry Smith’s cinematography adds necessary intensity to some of the film’s more thrilling moments. He utilizes different uses of shadows and dim lighting to give the film a sense of mystery and dread about what may lurk in the background. Lorne Balfe’s score is serviceable. But, surprisingly, the best aspect of craftsmanship is the makeup work. One supporting character, Georgette, who’s closely connected with Robey, happens to be a burnt survivor and a victim of abuse. The work on her facial structure is incredibly meticulous, signifying the disturbing reality of this character and the villain’s despicable actions. Despite these highlights, the film’s pacing can pave the way for some bumps in the road, which is disappointing considering its tight runtime. The editing doesn’t do many favors to some of the early action set pieces in the film’s first half and gives off a “been there, done that” vibe, leaving a bit left to be desired in terms of creativity from the choreography and cuts. The VFX in some of these stunts is also a bit spotty at times, and that opens the doors for many distractions to these high-stake moments, giving a cheap look to what is otherwise a well-shot movie at the end of the day.
Continuing the hit series, “Luther: The Fallen Sun” juggles some cynical yet informative themes. It’s a story that discusses the ugliness of dark secrets, pride, and blackmail against the wrongful doings in our lives. In a time when the internet and online communities increase, we also exist in a time where accountability for wrongdoings is embraced, even by people outside law enforcement. It’s about exposing the hypocrisy of those who judge others but claim to be the innocent ones when, in reality, we all fall short of wrongdoings, even if it’s performed secretly through the internet. There’s a sense of desperation that comes with two challenging questions that this story proposes: “How far are we willing to go to cover our dark side?” and “Do our lowest, most shameful actions define who we are?” The writing may not ultimately deliver in the execution of these themes, and there are certainly better films to tackle these topics. But, the ambition of these ideas, the strength of the acting ensemble, and the compelling crime beats from a show many already know and love are enough to make this a competent and enjoyable watch at home.