The continuation of Luther, the hugely popular BBC series that began in 2010, has been on the line since the last series, series 5, aired in 2019. The end of that series saw DCI John Luther (Idris Elba) arrested and sent to jail for all the morally murky things he had done while solving his cases.
Netflix to the rescue. A new feature film is now in cinemas and will hit the streaming service on March 10. Luther: The Fallen Sun arrives with a decent amount of worry from fans; can Netflix bring the hit show to the big screen without sacrificing any of its signature violence and grit?
Turns out, yes, they can. Netflix has done a tremendous job with Luther: The Fallen Sun, partly because they hired series creator Neil Cross to write it and Jamie Payne, who directed series 5, to direct it.
The film begins with a flashback, connecting the film to the TV series as we witness how a young man, Callum, went missing. Luther promised Callum’s mum he would find him but ended up in prison, breaking his promise.
As we know, Luther is a policeman through and through. So when word reaches him that a new serial killer is out there and the killer taunts Luther behind bars, he’s determined to break out and investigate.
There’s not much secrecy about who the killer is. We know from the trailer that Andy Serkis plays him, but Payne and Cross deliciously weave the mystery into the narrative. Cross leaves a steady path of breadcrumbs for us to follow, but Luther: The Fallen Sun is written tightly, and it’s hard to imagine anyone guessing all its twists and turns.
Elba returns to the role that made him a household name, and he’s never been better. He has a tight grip on Luther as a character and knows him inside out. Although the trailer suggested otherwise, Luther hasn’t magically become an otherworldly superhero. No, he’s an unrefined fighter, and there’s something very special about how ordinary Luther is. No superheroes here.
Cynthia Erivo stars against Elba as a new DCI in charge of finding Luther after he breaks free. It almost feels like Erivo is supposed to fill the gap left by Ruth Wilson, who was both a villain and a love interest for Luther. Erivo, although a talented actress, isn’t quite as interesting and her character isn’t quite as complex as Wilson’s Alice Morgan.
Serkis makes for a wonderfully creepy villain. The gritty realism that has come to define Luther is still present here and extends to Serkis’s character. This isn’t a supervillain but a highly skilled and intelligent antagonist that feels like a real threat. It’s often hard to believe our villains could pull off the stunts they do in films, but Serkis’ plan feels plausible.
The film is also violent, as you’d expect from Luther. The violence never feels gratuitous, always serving a larger purpose. The entire last act of the film, mainly taking place in Estonia, is tense and thrilling, leaving you firmly on the edge of your seat.
The film is also very accessible for people not familiar with the TV show. Although The Fallen Sun is very much a continuation of it and will certainly please the fans, enough time is devoted to explaining where we are and who Luther is for newbies to get on board. This is thanks to Cross’ excellent plotting.
Luther: The Fallen Sun is a fascinating deep dive into the mind of a killer and a man desperate to catch him. Its moral dilemmas are engaging, and while there is a certain gloss that comes with Netflix money, Luther has managed to keep its edge and style.
Luther: The Fallen Sun is in cinemas now and will stream on Netflix 10 March.