Film and TV

Reviews For The Easily Distracted:
Luther: The Fallen Sun

Title: Luther: The Fallen Sun

Describe This Movie In One L.A. Confidential Quote:
CAPTAIN SMITH: I admire you as a policeman, particularly your adherence to violence as a necessary adjunct to the job.
Brief Plot Synopsis: Cor blimey, guv'nor. This bloke's got himself in a right spot of trouble.

Rating Using Random Objects Relevant To The Film: 3 snowplows out of 5.
Tagline: N/A

Better Tagline: "It's a fair cop."

Not So Brief Plot Synopsis: Hello, dad! Luther's in jail! That's right, troubled former Detective Chief Inspector John Luther (Idris Elba) has been sent to prison, thanks to the machinations of billionaire serial killer David Robey (Andy Serkis). Left with little choice, Luther breaks out of prison to catch him, with or without the help of DCI Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo), who as it turns out has a personal stake in the case.
"Critical" Analysis: Luther: Fallen Sun works best if you view it as a plus-sized episode of the (comparatively) long-running BBC series. Since we were introduced to the character, the dodgy DCI has experienced a variety of traumatic incidents and moral navel-gazing, and much of that comes to a head in Fallen Sun, but this is a self-contained story that doesn't bump up against previous plotlines. Much.

So in a way it's better(?) that Fallen Sun hits the ground running, with Robey initiating the ratf*cking that leads to Luther getting locked up. The opening credits have barely rolled before our hero is in stir. And he's not having too good a time of it, as befits a cop incarcerated with a bunch of people he probably put there.

This leads to a sequence where he fights his way out of a prison riot, Ghost Protocol style. It's inspired, and if it seems like someone would notice that a high profile cop prisoner went missing, DCI Raine and Luther's former superintendent Schenk (Dermot Crowley) conspire to keep things quiet, once it turns out they actually need his help.

That scene is one example of how the Luther series has gone a little bananapants. There's not much subtlety here (admittedly, it's hard to remember if there ever was), especially when you include shots of your main dude standing like the Dark Knight as he surveys the London skyline.

But now that you think about, John Luther really is kind of the British Batman: he's obsessive about bringing the bad guys to justice, he doesn't mind using illegal methods or violence to solve cases, and he refuses to kill suspects.

That last part is applicable to classic Batman, not Snyder Batman.

The killer's Diabolical Scheme stretches credulity, another feature of the franchise, not a bug. Is it possible that anyone could get away with Robey's scheme (a "red room" where murder aficionados bid on the most gruesome way to kill the captives)? Or that Robey could field an entire army of accomplices to monitor and snatch victims? Or that an apparently famous high-tech billionaire could hold a knife to a dude's throat in Piccadilly Circus and nobody would recognize him?

If your answer is, "Who cares?", then you're in the right mindset. More compelling is Elba's portrayal of Luther's continuing descent into darkness (literally and figuratively, Fallen Sun has the look of nightmares), Erivo giving it her all, and Serkis himself. Maybe Andor made you forget, but the guy plays an excellent creep.

Elba has said he's likely done playing Luther in any more TV series, but would be open to more movie efforts. Luther: The Fallen Sun works to the extent it does thanks to Elba and Erivo's talents and director Jamie Payne and writer (and creator) Neil Cross wisely not dragging the misery out across an entire season.

Luther: The Fallen Sun is now streaming on Netflix.
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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar