Luther: The Fallen Sun, directed by Jamie Payne (The Hour), is a great example of what television movies can be. Idris Elba’s (The Harder They Fall) seminal performance gets another chance to stretch its legs in this two-hour film. The ever-reliable Andy Serkis (Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) and Cynthia Erivo (Widows) fill out the supporting cast to creator Neil Cross’ (Crossbones) script. For better or worse, Luther: The Fallen Sun never tries to be anything the show was not, and at times its expanded budget takes away from the stellar cinematography the show is known for. That said, the tale is gripping, the acting is top-notch, and Luther: Fallen Sun is just plain good to miss for long-time fans of the series.
When the deranged David Robey (Serkis) unleashes a string of complex murders on London, DCI John Luther (Elba) is on the case again. But just as the investigation gets going, his past discretions are revealed to the public, and he is quickly arrested and replaced by Odette Raine (Erivo). As Robey’s attacks begin to outwit the police, Raine begins to understand that Luther could be helpful. Once he escapes prison, Luther is on a mission to avoid Raine and catch Robey. When the two detectives finally join forces to rescue Raine’s daughter from Robey, things go from bad to worse.
The plot is as straightforward as any episode. Luther tries to solve a crime, his past gets in the way, his boss gets in the way, and he has to go rogue to bring them to justice. It worked for 21 episodes, and it works again in Luther: The Fallen Sun. The production takes full advantage of the movie-sized budget. People falling off buildings, terrible CGI fire, the works. And while the fire looks ridiculous, the final showdown takes place at one of the most gorgeous locations one will see on the big or small screen. Luther and Raine finally track down the elusive Robey at a mansion in the middle of a frozen tundra bathed in snow and sunlight, and it’s great.
Luther: The Fallen Sun is one of the better film adaptions of a television series one will ever see. Granted, that quality ranges from 2015’s Entourage to El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie. Like video game adaptions, consolidating episodes into a single screenplay is no easy feat. While The Last Of Us is hoping to prove video game skeptics wrong, television adaptions are inherently different. Unlike video games, this is the continuation of a story, and it could be considered to be a long episode before a show is brought back. There are three popular paths to go down in television adaptions: The El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie route, and have the movie essentially be a bottle episode that does not change the source material; the Entourage route, and have the movie be the show’s grand finale that ties up plot threads from a canceled or unfinished final season; and there’s the Luther: The Fallen Sun route, where it’s just the biggest, most expensive version of an episode possible in film form.
There is an almost Batman-like quality to Elba in Luther: The Fallen Sun, as he stands regally watching over London from an exposed rooftop. James Bond fans have always clamored for Elba to pick up the martini and be the next 007. Fans of Luther will feel like Q when he unveils the broke down Volvo in storage like it’s an Aston Martin. The reality is that he has been the best of both on the BBC for years. One of the best things about Elba’s performance is that the grit of his character never gets in the way of him being charming whenever he wants to be.
The layering Cross does with the story exemplifies this theme best when Dermot Crowley says, “The tragedy is that you are a better man than you ever allowed yourself to be.” Elba returning to his best role is music to any fan of television or film. The production value may have its ups and downs considering the creative team, but it’s all worth it to see Luther have his Daredevil hallway fight scene. The storytelling is perfect for newcomers and fans alike, alienating no one while staying true to what makes Luther, Luther.
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Luther: Fallen Sun is in theaters now and will be available to stream on Netflix March 10. The film is 130 minutes long and rated R for disturbing/violent content, language, and some sexual material.