Idris Elba returns as Luther in gruesome Netflix movie

For anyone who still harbors any latent hope that Idris Elba will be the next James Bond, I have bad news: “Luther: The Fallen Sun” hits (yet again) a nail in that very tightly closed coffin. In one of the sinister film’s rare moments of levity, embattled detective John Luther sits down at a posh bar and tells the bartender it’s been a long day (an understatement).

“I’d say a long day calls for a martini,” says the bartender.

Luther’s response? “No.” He takes some water and “if it makes you happy, you can make it fizz.”

This was no coincidence, said “Luther” creator Neill Cross. Elba even wondered if it wasn’t a little too bold. But it is worth remembering that Elba does not need Bond. He already has a moody, tortured bachelor with a knack for chasing bad guys. And Luther is exclusively his.

In this outing, written by Cross and directed by Jamie Payne, Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) John Luther is imprisoned for his unconventional methods on the job and haunted by the unsolved missing person case that opens the film and sets its macabre tone. His imprisonment and the missing teenager are related – the work of a wealthy villain David Robey (Andy Serkis) who introduces the film as such to the audience in the first few moments.

The character of Serkis is something of a gentleman psychopath, with his blown-out James Spader in “Pretty in Pink” haircut and maniacal smile. He is one of those villains for whom chaos, misery and blood are the point. David Robey is methodical, patient and ruthless – even going so far as to befriend the families of his victims afterwards.

At the start, the movie takes on a kind of David Fincher vibe, with echoes of “Seven” and “Zodiac” crossed with some of Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight.” Unfortunately, it takes on the conceit towards the end so absurdly that the premise takes on an unintentional silliness. That’s not even counting the brawls between Elba and Serkis, whose sizes don’t match anymore.

But the good news is that it’s been a pretty fun, thrilling ride so far with some stunning shots of London at night. Elba slips back to Luther like no time has passed, though here he’s taken on some super-heroic talents, evidenced by his jailbreak – a sequence that’s somehow both violent and cartoonish. It’s not an easy or simple role, but Elba makes it look like this. This is a man so dedicated to his previous job that he risks death to break out of prison and go straight back to work to solve the case, knowing full well that he is also being hunted by his replacement, DCI Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo, not to be trifled with).

Unwilling to cooperate with Luther, Odette even enlists his old boss Martin (Dermot Crowley, a reassuring presence) to help find him. This resistance is starting to get a bit redundant and useless, especially since it’s pretty clear that they’ll eventually find a way to work together and maybe could have saved some lives if they had done so sooner. And sometimes you wish Luther could take a vacation – it can be exhausting watching his relentless pursuit, but there’s little room for boredom in a film that never lets its protagonist breathe.

And then, of course, there’s the ludicrous theatrics of Robey’s ultimate plan, which is based on the premise that serial killers and snuff porn fetishists are everywhere waiting for a deranged mind to live-stream grisly murders. This “Saw”-esque game show also takes place in a hidden hideout in the snowy north, like going through a rogue book.

But even if it may go over-the-top in the end, Elba will keep you captivated.

You don’t have to have watched all five seasons of “Luther” to be in with a chance of winning “Luther: The Fallen Sun.”

“Luther: The Fallen Sun,” a Netflix release streaming Friday, has been rated R by the Motion Picture Association for “disturbing/violent content, language, and some sexual material.” Running time: 129 minutes. Two and a half stars out of four.


MPA definition of R: limited. Under the age of 17, an accompanying parent or adult guardian is required.


Follow AP film writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter:

Leave a Comment