The movie adaptation of the hit BBC series Luther is a bit patchy but worth a watch if you’re an Elba fan
dris Elba returns as John Luther in Luther: The Fallen Sun, the movie adaptation of the hit BBC series that was released on Netflix last week.
Based on the television series Luther, created by Neil Cross, which had a successful run from 2010 to 2019, the movie follows the story of Detective Chief Inspector John Luther as he tackles complex and dangerous criminal cases in London while dealing with his own demons.
Cross has stated that he wanted to make a Luther movie as far back as the first two seasons. The movie is directed by Jamie Payne who also directed the four-episode fifth season of the TV series.
Luther is known for his unorthodox methods of solving cases and his obsessive dedication to his work, often putting himself in danger and straining his personal relationships.
Throughout the series, Luther deals with a range of complex cases involving serial killers, psychopaths and other violent criminals. He also faces personal challenges, including the death of his wife and his rocky relationship with Alice Morgan (played by Ruth Wilson), a brilliant and dangerous sociopath who becomes his uneasy ally.
Over the years, Luther has gained a massive following and critical acclaim for its gripping storytelling, intense performances and dark and gritty atmosphere. The show has also won multiple awards including the Critics’ Choice Television Awards, Screen Actors’ Guild Award and a Golden Globe for Elba’s performance.
The film Luther: The Fallen Sun, is set after the events of the show’s fifth season where Luther was facing legal troubles for being a suspect in the murders of Alice Morgan, DS Halliday, Benny Silver (Michael Smiley) and Mr Palmer, an assassin.
The movie opens with a rather nostalgic scene where Luther visits a crime scene and makes a promise to a worried mother that he will find her young son who’s gone missing. Before he can make a real breakthrough, his legal troubles catch up with him and he ends up in prison.
His imprisonment pleases David Robey (played by Andy Serkis), who is a sadistic psychopath with no regard for human life. Despite fearing that Luther might be the only one who can stop him, Robey provokes him anyway.
Luther eventually engineers a jailbreak and becomes a fugitive while investigating the case. He contacts Detective Chief Inspector Odette Raine (portrayed by Cynthia Erivo) by phone but receives a cold reception as she has no regard for a convicted criminal and wants to see him back behind bars. His old boss Martin Schenk (played by Dermot Crowley) is more receptive to his pleas for assistance from within the Police Department.
The movie ticks off the usual checklist: digital paranoia, rich dark web pervert, secret societies, police chase on busy roads, fights on frozen lakes and an ending scene to set up the sequel. But it all seems recycled. At times it’s not the actors‘ performances that are failing; it’s just that they all seem to have been plucked from different worlds and brought together out of necessity.
You can expect what happens next, when Raine witnesses the magnitude of Robey’s evil actions including horrific mass murder as well as the kidnapping of her daughter, she is forced to form an uneasy partnership with Luther, despite his dishonourable past. The climax takes us into a stormy environment setting up a base for the next movie.
Elba has definitely done justice to his character from the original series. Wearing his signature red tie - even when he is out on the streets of London as a wanted fugitive - he continues to portray the psychologically damaged lawman quite well.
Despite being continuously linked to the James Bond role again and again, this performance sets him up more for the role of Batman than Bond - like his action sequence during the jailbreak fighting off a dozen men. His enemy-turned-uneasy ally Alice Morgan is nowhere to be seen but I expect her to appear in the coming films setting up quite a contest between the two.
As of now, his current adversary David Robey sets up his case by committing gruesome actions in the name of entertaining others but quite honestly we have seen this before. Additionally, even though, Robey starts out as somewhat believable, by the end, he’s ventured into behaviour that won`t even impress the Joker. His motives, means, and ability to construct a secret digital empire are barely explained.
This issue is present throughout the movie. It does not really set up a consistent plotline or focus much on character development. The movie ticks off the usual checklist: digital paranoia, rich dark web pervert, secret societies, police chase on busy roads, fights on frozen lakes and an ending scene to set up the sequel. But it all seems recycled. At times it’s not the actors’ performances that are failing rather it’s just that they all seem to have been plucked from different worlds and brought together out of necessity.
He might not be a Bond but Elba definitely has a franchise of his own. Whether it will go beyond the sequel or not will depend on how far the storyline can be improved. Otherwise, John Luther might not last long in the world of cinema.
Luther: The Fallen Sun is rated R for disturbing/ violent content, language and some sexual material.
The writer is a digital communication expert and consultant currently working in the public sector. He is the mastermind behind the digital platforms Sukhan, Mani’s Cricket Myths, and Over The Line