You may know Idris Elba from a plethora of roles, ranging from The Office to Marvel films, but for many people, the Luther series from the BBC is where they first found him. While the series was a mainstay on Netflix for some time, it has now moved over to Hulu, but don’t cancel your Netflix subscription just yet. Luther: The Fallen Sun is a film that serves as a loose sequel to the series, and arrives in select theaters on February 24, with a Netflix release shortly after on March 10.
Of course, Luther is not the first series to see a theatrical follow-up. Entourage, The Sopranos, and many other popular series have had movies produced once the series came to an end. For the most part, those films fell in line with the series, but Luther: The Fallen Sun takes a slightly different approach. The film can be enjoyed by someone who has never seen an episode of Luther, but it’s easier to overlook some of the faults of the film if you’re already acquainted with DCI Luther (Idris Elba).
For the most part, The Fallen Sun feels like the Luther series. There are enough fun callbacks to the series to make Luther fans happy, but it’s not steeped in nostalgia. The film moves at a surprisingly brisk pace early on, but that’s partially because writer and series creator Neil Cross is essentially working a full season of Luther into a mere two-episode block. That’s not necessarily a negative, but it doesn’t leave room for some of the finer aspects of Luther.
In previous seasons of the series, Luther always has someone to bounce off of. Whether it’s Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson), DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown), or his direct superior, there was always either a matching of wits or some fun banter throughout each season. While Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley) returns, he’s retired, and with the shortened runtime his conversations with Luther aren’t as frequent.
Luther’s main rivals in The Fallen Sun come from two opposite ends of the spectrum. The first is the main antagonist of the film, David Robey (Andy Serkis), a crazed serial killer with a mildly distracting toupe. The second is the new department head, Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo), who replaced Martin Schenk, and has no love for Luther. These characters are all great, and Serkis is especially devilish, but because the film moves so quickly there isn’t a lot of time to establish a quality connection between the characters, or proper motives.
Robey and Luther meet at a crime scene where they don’t even speak to one another, but this causes Robey to develop a strong enough hatred for Luther that he wants him out of the way as quickly as possible. Likewise, Raine is so against Luther that she doesn’t even want his help in solving the case. In a full season, we’d have seen these relationships grow and foster into something far more significant over time.
That’s not to say that Luther: The Fallen Sun is lacking. It raises the violence and the emotional trauma for the viewer, and still feels like a proper Luther experience, just truncated. Someone coming into The Fallen Sun with no prior knowledge of Luther may be put off by the brisk pacing early on, but by the final act, it’s a solid resolution to a quality crime drama.
There’s a lot to like about Luther: The Fallen Sun and fans of the series are in for a treat. However, an extra 20 minutes to build the new characters up a bit more would have gone a long way for fans and casual viewers alike. Still, it’s nice to see DCI Luther return, and with any luck, Neil Cross and Idris Elba have one or two more adventures up their sleeves.
About Luther: The Fallen Sun
Synopsis: Brilliant but disgraced detective John Luther breaks out of prison to hunt down a sadistic serial killer who is terrorising London.
Director: Jamie Payne
Writer: Neil Cross
Stars: Idris Elba, Cynthia Erivo, Andy Serkis, Dermot Crowley
Runtime: 2 Hours, 9 Minutes
Releases: February 24, 2023
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.