A tense, intriguing thriller that leans toward the horror genre. Luther: The Fallen Sun is a wicked crime novel that comes to life.
Directed by Jamie Payne, we review the Netflix film Luther: The Fallen Sun, which does not contain spoilers.
The film adaptation of the BBC Series Luther can be, at times, a riveting and genuinely frightening crime thriller. Other times, the movie can be overrun by illuminating transgressive topics many are ashamed of. However, as a pure spectacle, even if this crime film leans towards the horror genre by delving into dark salacious aspects of control, Luther: The Fallen Sun is a tense, intriguing thriller elevated by the always charismatic Idris Elba.
Luther: The Fallen Sun Review and Plot Summary
The most renowned detective since Sherlock Holmes now finds himself in prison and a victim of today’s cancel culture. Someone dug into the detective’s “unconventional” methods and posted them online. That’s unfortunate because he promised Corinne, a mother whose son went missing, of he would catch the killer and then bring them to justice. Luther (Elba) is now not only haunted by the unsolved murder of a sadistic cybercriminal, but the killer also taunts him while in prison.
Who is this killer? That would be David Robey (Andy Serkis). He is highly skilled with a knife. Cunning in multiple ways. He even has a sense of style, or you may call it some sadistic panache. He will play tearful screams of loved ones begging for their lives for family and Luther as he rots in a prison cell. Even years later. And there is nothing like a failure that eats at our disgraced detective more. That means he leaves prison to help the new inspector Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo) and his old chum Martin (Dermot Crowley) solve the case.
Director Jamie Payne and Luther creator Neil Cross are back for the film continuation of the series. The movie resembles an ominous James Patterson story brought to life, like Kiss the Girls and Along Came a Spider. The reason for that is Cross’s reputation as a crime mystery novelist that led to the highly successful Luther brand. If you’re a fan of those films, or the genre in general, Luther: The Fallen Sun is far superior to those adaptations. For this simple reason, this horror is no longer diluted. If anything, the tone is ramped up for maximum effect.
This film, and the potential franchise of Luther movies, are much different because Cross and Payne embrace the darkness of why people do bad things and shamefully hide behind facades. This allows the script to be relatable yet frighteningly current. That’s a credit to the filmmakers being able to be adaptable. Not to mention, Serkis is so sadistic and evil in this film, it can be more frightening than scenes you’ll find in Cocaine Bear this film season.
Luther: The Fallen Sun has a couple of very effective set pieces. One is when Luther escapes prison, which is suspenseful and action-packed. (And that’s despite being unrealistic). Another is the riveting sequence where Rodney sets up a macabre scene set up in Piccadilly Square and leads to an invigorating chase. These are highlighted by Payne, who has a jaw-dropping eye for visuals, one that includes an icy lake with a heart-stopping revelation about where Rodney hides his victims. It helps that this Luther incarnation has a gorgeous musical score from Lorne Balfe that give scenes some mighty heft.
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This is an excellent cast, including the wonderful Erivo, who gets to play a thankless skeptical character who gets some unexpected meat at the end of the film to chew on. Serkin is genuinely frightening in the role. (Nothing is scarier than a killer who enjoys his work a little too much). Elba is at his reliable best, knowing the ins and outs of the role and with a story that gives him a bit more to play with. Very few movie stars with inherent gifts can carry a film as dark as this.
Where the movie falters is the third act. The film is too long, at a little over two hours. The script could have been tighter. Not to mention, by the time you get to the final scenes, the movie is overwrought with its wicked and menacing themes and tones. The chase scene to end the movie feels like an attempt for Payne to add another stunning visual. I’m guessing the director hopes that you’ll ignore the sheer amount of time that passes. That goes past common sense unless you are Tom Cruise or a Navy Seal.
Is the 2023 movie Luther: The Fallen Sun good?
Luther: The Fallen Sun’s flaws undercut the film’s first ninety minutes. However, the movie is a scary and wicked story with horror undertones that will remind you of David Fincher’s Seven, wrapped in a mystery crime novel come to life. A fine first effort for what I am sure is a film franchise continuation of a beloved character.
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