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Luther: The Fallen Sun Review – Who Needs 007 When You Have Luther?

Luther Cover

Idris Elba has emphatically denied that he’ll be taking on the mantle of the British Secret Service’s most infamous agent, James Bond, saying, “I’m not going to be that guy.” While Elba certainly has the charm and debonair demeanor to emerge from the shadow left by Daniel Craig’s iconic portrayal, it’s a role he simply doesn’t need. He has Luther. Detective Chief Inspector John Luther may not be as iconic a character as Bond, but since the series began back in 2010 he’s cemented himself as a staple of the detective genre. Now, thirteen years later, we see the character in his first feature length film, Luther: The Fallen Sun.

The Plot

DCI Luther has always played fast and loose with the rules, bending the law to fit his needs as he hunts Britain’s most dangerous criminals. It’s a ‘the ends justify the means’ mentality that catches up to him and lands him behind bars on a slew of misconduct charges. Meanwhile, a sadistic serial killer (Andy Serkis) is on the loose and taunting the disgraced detective from the outside, leading Luther to escape from his prison and set out to catch the killer before the police can catch him and return him to his cage.

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Idris Elba in the Netflix original film.

Also Read: Idris Elba Blasts Identity Politics Branding Him As “The First Black To Do This Or That”

The Critique

The biggest obstacle that Luther: The Fallen Sun faces is trying to cram an entire season’s worth of content into a roughly two-hour feature. The film fails to find its pacing for the story — especially in the first half — with much of the plot feeling like short stories stitched together in a way that isn’t entirely cohesive. It’s like trying to drink a thick milkshake through a straw; it’s great when you finally get a taste, but you spend most of the time feeling frustrated and longing for something that you know is there, but can’t quite get.

While these flaws are significant, the film’s shining moments radiate bright enough to break through the fog of its lackluster script. With Idris Elba (Beast) and Andy Serkis (Black Panther) we have two masters of the craft going head to head in a deadly game of cat and mouse; it’s all very traditional detective genre fair, but it’s elevated by Elba’s charisma and perfected portrayal of the grizzled, no non-sense lawman. He’s a true blue detective in the vein of classic noir cinema from the early Hollywood era.

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Luther creator Neil Cross was brought on to pen the screenplay, which allows the film to maintain the heart, soul and overall vibe of the series. Another smart choice was to tell a story that works as a stand alone viewing experience. In the era of the MCU, where audiences are expected to watch thirty-nine movies and a handful of series just to understand the conflict between Ant-Man and Kang in the Quantum Realm, the contained nature is a breathe of fresh air. I watched Luther: The Fallen Sun with my wife, whom was completely unfamiliar with the character (so much so that she asked me if he was a super hero prior to pressing play), and she was able to jump in without issue.

In Conclusion

Luther: The Fallen Sun largely benefits from the legacy of it’s character. It’s a film with thought provoking ideas and questions about shame, embarrassment and privacy, bogged down by a weak script and a poor edit. I have to wonder if there is a better version of this film sitting on the cutting room floor. That’s what it feels like, because despite its over two-hour run time, large chunks of story just seem to be… missing. Perhaps a three-hour version would have hit all of the right beats. As it stands, Luther: The Fallen Sun is an enjoyable detective story with some stunning visuals, great performances and an epic jail break.


7 Out of 10

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Written by Joshua Ryan

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the FandomWire review based Podcast, Cinema Stubs.

Twitter: @MrMovieGuy86 Instagram: @MrMovieGuy86