LUTHER: THE FALLEN SUN is a Netflix movie continuing the story of DCI John Luther, brilliantly played by Idris Elba, from the BBC One television series which premiered in the UK in 2010. Elba, who produces, along with director Jamie Payne and creator-writer Neil Cross have always intended to make a feature-length film, with the idea of exploring the modern serial killer.
With technology comes ease, but it also opens us up to the possibility of a monster watching and listening to every move we make through our televisions and smart speakers --- following every aspect of our lives. The thought is terrifying, and Cross has penned a very, very dark villain named David Robey (Andy Serkis), who does just that. And he’s also created the “Red Bunker”, up to now a myth of the dark web, a place where Robey can perform the most horrific tortures for his pay-per-view audience.
After a young man is kidnapped, tortured and hung, Luther promise his mother, Corinne (Hattie Morahan), that he will find the killer. But Robey has other plans and exposes all of Luther’s past sins as a policeman, which lands him in jail. Appealing to the new DCI, Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo), doesn’t help --- she wants nothing to do with him. Instead, he enlists an old associate, Dennis McCabe (Vincent Regan), to help him break out of prison.
Doing everything he can to capture Robey while evading DCI Raine and the police, he turns to a retired colleague, Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley), for assistance. After Raine’s daughter, Anya (Lauryn Ajufo), is kidnapped by Robey, she and Luther must race against the clock to save her and stop Robey’s next big “event”.
To describe LUTHER: THE FALLEN SUN as dark is an understatement. Even the title hints at the bleakness of this movie. There is no sun --- anywhere --- in Payne’s psychological thriller. London is dark and rainy throughout --- extremely foreboding --- to match the mood of this sadistic serial killer. Scene after scene will have you on the edge of your seat, gripping your wine glass until it almost shatters. But I digress…
Elba is terrific --- as intense as always. He’s larger than life in this role. And Serkis makes a splendid deviant --- he’s truly unnerving. Crowley reprising his role as Schenk is a crowd pleaser and Erivo makes a great female DCI --- she’s perfect for the character.
LUTHER: THE FALLEN SUN is certainly not for everyone. Many of the depictions of torture are graphic --- and gruesome. One has to wonder how Cross even comes up with this stuff. But for fans of the BBC hit, watching Elba going through his moves will be very satisfactory for sure.
In theaters February 24 --- on Netflix March 10
Opinion: See It Now!
There is no doubt that this film creates suspense and holds our attention, but does it really qualify as entertainment? Based on “Luther” the long-running TV series, LUTHER: THE FALLEN SUN is not easy to recommend because of its extreme sadism and cruelty as depicted by Andy Serkis who portrays a vicious serial killer named David Robey. His character is billed as a “cyber psychopath”. But with so much cruelty in the world do we need a story as macabre as this?
Idris Elba reprises his TV persona in this film as DCI John Luther. He is determined to find the serial murderer, but he is hampered by the fact he’s in jail. He is also reviled by his replacement, DCI Odette Raine (Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo), whose daughter Anya (Lauryn Ajufo) has a significant role in the proceedings.
Robey is a prolific killer who must be stopped, so from that standpoint, LUTHER: THE FALLEN SUN is hard to ignore. At least one major flaw detracts from the otherwise well-written script by Neil Cross who also created the BBC series. Luther has an extended battle with fellow prison inmates, subduing all of them, but he cannot take down a single opponent, Robey, in an early encounter? Hard to fathom.
The movie has a creative wrinkle --- however sick and pathetic --- in that the killer provides a live feed to paid subscribers who can tune in on their own devices and witness torture and death. They are all men, by the way, glued to their computers and are given a vote as to how the captives are to be brutalized. One amusing offshoot of this live stream occurs when Luther warns that they are being watched by the authorities who can track them down and arrest them. These sickos cannot disconnect themselves fast enough, literally ripping off their headphones.
Elba is a very compelling presence on screen. His character’s actions are certainly heroic, and it is easy for the viewer to root for him. But Luther must also win over Raine and the authorities in general if he is to shed his status as a convicted ex-cop. Aiding him in that respect is retired top cop and good friend Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley who was also part of the TV series).
As for Serkis, he makes for a truly whacked out, murderous, sadistic psycho who takes great pleasure in doling out both physical and emotional pain to his victims. For example, he has no qualms about ordering one of his captives to stab another or to demand another captive shatter the kneecap of a victim with a baseball bat. Again, is this entertainment? It does do its job of creating high suspense, but at what cost? On the other hand, LUTHER: THE FALLEN SUN is very well constructed and acted.
In theaters February 24 --- on Netflix March 10
Opinion: Wait for VOD