March 3rd, 2023
MOVIE: LUTER: THE FALLEN SUN
STARRING: IDRIS ELBA, CYNTHIA ERIVO, ANDY SERKIS, DERMOT CROWLEY
DIRECTED BY: JAMIE PAYNE
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 2 STARS (Out of 4)
There is a feeling of excitement to review a movie from a TV-series when you’ve never seen a single episode. Will I know what’s going on? Can it work without knowing the history or what it’s all about? Luther has been a big hit detective drama for the BBC, from creator Neil Cross, and a perfect role for the always impressive Idris Elba. After five seasons, it’s not a surprise that a feature film would follow, but what we have here is a tale of two halves. One part thrilling and exciting. The other half is laboring and dull. You might say it is a combo of one good episode and one bad. Sadly, Luther: The Fallen Sun fails to work as a narrative feature and instantly screams that this belongs on television.
It begins with a terrifying scene. A man receives a phone call, the other voice on the line gives him such fear that he leaves his job post, only to be brutally kidnapped. Arriving at the scene of the crime is DCI John Luther (Elba), with an abandoned car, and the mother of the missing man, begging Luther to find her son. What soon develops is an elaborate plan by a menacing serial killer named Robey (Andy Serkis). He murders more than one victim and in the process frames Luther for his past crooked ways. The plan is to remove the top cop and eliminate the lone person that could catch him. But prison can’t hold Luther and it won’t stop him from bringing justice.
The initial tone gives off instant vibes of David Fincher’s Seven. It’s a series of elaborately planned murders, with minor clues, subtlety detailing who the mystery killer would be. With Luther out of commission, the case goes into the hands of new DCI Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo), and she’s next on the killers list. It’s here where the narrative becomes about the old detective and person that took his position, both becoming desperate. Typically that would work, as both Erivo and Elba are great actors, but the material becomes stagnant. It’s a constant stream of the killer blackmailing others and just eluding those in pursuit. Even the big Luther fans might find it tedious.
What’s missing from the second half is a series of elaborate set pieces. There’s a moment of chasing and Robey’s murder plots that fit into the Spiral playbook. What rises above the narrative’s stagnant pace is the performance by Serkis. The Batman actor certainly never phones it in and his ability to strike fear in our eyes is impressive. It’s unfortunately at the service of a film that loses steam. The screenplay by Cross feels segmented and a collection of various episodic plots pieced together. There may be a deeper history of these characters that I was not picking up on but even those details are not highlighted in The Fallen Sun.
In the past or in episodes of Luther, the minor details would not be breezed through, especially Luther’s legal trouble that is simply explained away. The Fallen Sun has high points and low. In the 1980’s or 1990’s it would be a perfect joint for Wesley Snipes or Harrison Ford. It may still be a better movie to the die-hard Luther fan. It’s a better movie for the first hour. And then it all just fades away, like the sun disappearing on the horizon, Luther is flat out better in the episodic setting.
LUTHER: THE FALLEN SUN IS PLAYING IN SELECT THEATERS AND IS AVAILABLE ON NETFLIX MARCH 10TH, 2023.
Written by: Leo Brady