Luther: The Fallen Sun, 2023.
Directed by Jamie Payne.
Starring Idris Elba, Dermot Crowley, Cynthia Erivo, Andy Serkis, Einar Kuusk, Thomas Coombes, Hattie Morahan, Lauryn Ajufo, Vincent Regan, Edward Hogg, Dan Li, Ross Walton, Natasha Patel, Jess Liaudin, Alexander Anderson, Ian Streetz, and Teodor Tsolov.
Brilliant but disgraced detective John Luther breaks out of prison to hunt down a sadistic serial killer who is terrorising London.
While Luther: The Fallen Sun is a continuation of the BBC series (written by the show’s creator Neill Cross, and directed by Jamie Payne, who has helmed three episodes and contains several TV credits), one doesn’t need to be well-versed in the ongoings of detective chief inspector John Luther’s (Idris Elba) life to get some enjoyment out of the looney thriller which mines some fairly twisted thrills from London-based tech billionaire David Robey (Andy Serkis) catfishing kinksters into “extreme submission porn” and weaponizing that against them through blackmail until the fear becomes too much, orchestrating mass death one group at a time.
The film repeatedly stretches credibility but done so in go-for-broke fashion alongside a gloriously creepy turn from Andy Serkis. However, it does take some time (presumably more so for newcomers, which I am) to get invested in this story, which seems to go out of its way to force Luther into a disgraced detective arc (which, from a glance of the plot summary of the TV series, is certainly believable) where he must bust his way out of prison first while Robey taunts him about the victims. There is a tantalizing prologue, though, following a young man deeply terrified of humiliating footage Robey has on him, willing to do anything to make sure it’s not sent to his family and friends.
Once Luther is free, he becomes the target counterintelligence officer Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo), catches up with an old friend (Dermot Crowley) for sleuthing assistance, and puts together a pattern regarding the victims. Without giving too much away, it’s rather unsettling where these victims come from, all while forcing key characters to sometimes work against one another or wonder how much trust they can give. The finale contains a cruel sequence where key characters must harm one another, further exemplifying Robey’s sadism and sociopathic nature.
Aside from one character uttering through tears that what he did sexually “wasn’t even that bad” before killing himself, Luther: The Fallen Sun doesn’t necessarily deal with what’s taboo, and even that is a stretch. There’s never a clear picture of what Robey is specifically having these victims do (which could also be for the best), which causes a disconnect when characters are literally choosing to kill themselves over dealing with judgment from so-called normal people.
The plot itself is bonkers and compelling to take in, but there’s not much of a window into the hedonism. It’s a PG-13 thriller dealing with material needing something more graphic. The killer’s backstory is another demented piece of the puzzle that doesn’t add up to much psychologically.
Strangely, the above does mean it’s impressive that Luther: The Fallen Sun is consistently engaging. Idris Elba is also not phoning it in for this performance that seemingly sees him returning to his roots as an actor, bursting with compulsion and determination during moments of haste decision-making and soothing tones when investigating a civilian potentially close to Robey. It’s effectively trashy fun about these characters, some of whom may or may not have a connection to the killer, and the choices they may or may not be courageous enough to make to stop this demented madman.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com