At The Movies: Netflix version of detective Luther is more frantic, but his heart is in the right place

Luther: The Fallen Sun stars Idris Elba as heroic detective John Luther. PHOTO: NETFLIX

Luther: The Fallen Sun (R21)

130 minutes, Netflix
4 stars

The story: In this film add-on to the BBC television crime thriller Luther (2010 to 2019), Detective John Luther (Idris Elba) is probing a series of disappearances when his life is upended: Evidence turns up framing him on charges of abuse of power.

From prison, Luther must not only clear his name, but also pursue a mastermind who snatches victims for sadistic online games.

Fans of the Luther show did not watch it for streetwise realism or procedural rigour, or even because the hero was a super-smart puzzle solver.

They loved it because Elba’s Luther was a Christ-like figure who opened his heart to his victims and suffered greatly as a result.

The killers – insulated by power, wealth and smarts – mocked and beat him, physically and mentally. Yet Luther, the underdog with the good soul, would triumph.

This one-off film continuation of the show pits the London cop against a contemporary class of criminal: the hacker – or rather, a rich man whose hirelings have infiltrated every electronic device on the planet and, with a click, can blackmail anyone into doing anything.

It is in this milieu of surveillance paranoia that Luther finds himself – one that causes trusted associates to flip from friend to foe instantly.

British actor Andy Serkis, better known for his performance-capture work in the Lord Of The Rings trilogy (2001 to 2003) and the rebooted Planet Of The Apes film series (2011 to 2017), is magnificently sinister as Luther’s nemesis David Robey, a psychopathic killer with a taste for the theatrical.

Indeed, everything that was operatic in the original series created by Neil Cross (horror film Mama, 2013; drama series The Mosquito Coast, 2021 to 2023) has been juiced up to new heights for the movie – the chases are longer, the stakes higher.

Of course, there is the compulsory helicopter shot of Luther atop a London rooftop, moodily surveying the city he has to save, the fabric of his trademark tweed overcoat flapping like a cape.

Everything is just a bit sloppy here.

The Netflix budget could not be stretched to make the flames in the arson scenes look real, the fight scenes are messy and the victim gore could do with more polish. The Netflix Luther is shoutier and more frantic compared with the BBC Luther, but his suffering heart is still in the right place.

Hot take: An arc fit for a Luther series has been compressed into a movie, but the story and characters have kept their flavour. Most importantly, Luther once more offers his pain for the salvation of others.

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