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MOVIES: Luther: The Fallen Sun - Review

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DCI John Luther is back. A dirty cop locked up behind bars and having made the transition from television to film in an age where so many movie stars are making the transition the other way around, up steps Idris Elba, one of television’s most terrifying lawmakers – who’s been on the receiving end of some harsh punishment over the years and is back again for some more – in what, make no mistakes about it – is a brutal, harsh thriller – Andy Serkis’ ruthless serial killer is terrorising London and has a connection to Luther’s past. Only he can stop it – but first, he has to get out of jail – following the end of Series 4.

First of all if any of you are watching The Fallen Sun without having seen the television show prior you’re missing out on some good stuff – that’s not to say it isn’t accessible anyway, sans the return of one or two favourites, but it’s some of the best television in its genre. Series creator Neil Cross returns for this one with Jamie Payne in the director’s chair for a dark, gritty vision of London – Luther has brought some killer scares over the years, to the point where in a recent interview Cross mentioned that even Serkis was worried by the character he was portraying, and if you creep out Andy Serkis you’ve done a good job. Serkis is borderline terrifying – but just as ruthless in his role as the protagonist is the good cop gone rogue John Luther, that one person who regularly calls up their old workplace after they’ve been sacked to find out how everyone else is doing there.

Of course, the context is richer than that – but that’s Luther’s jist, dedicated to his profession – even locked up, he’s still a copper, and the prisoners he’s locked up with are intent to let him know that – “stand up, if you hate the police,” is a terrifying chant aimed at him as he is taken to his cell following a flashback sequence. It’s the intensity that The Fallen Sun keeps up throughout its runtime – pushing us into uncomfortable, traumatic set-pieces that aren’t for the faint of heart. But then it’s Luther, if you’re looking for the faint of heart – you’re looking in the wrong place.

Andy Serkis is deliberately menacing, chewing up the scenery and having a great time – the core of the film taps into the online world of revenge porn, something that has only gotten relevant since Assayas tackled it back in 2002 with the excellent Demonlover, and now we get to see Cross’ take on it – uncompromising, brutal and a condemnation of its perpetrators – Cross taps into the fear of the fact that people are more scared of reputation and how they’re perceived than anything else, and turns people against their better instincts by having Serkis’ killer access their deepest, darkest secrets – objectively normal people aren’t always who you appear. Multiple times when we see what people are looking at online – be it pornography or something much worse, we don’t see what they’re looking for – we only see – the people themselves, guilty when they’re caught, betraying their worse instincts: Serkis’ character offers a rallying cry for these people in a sick, twisted perverse way that Luther’s out to stop – and it’s a match of both figures.

Idris Elba not being James Bond was one of the biggest missed castings of the last decade – if Craig had retired earlier maybe we would’ve gotten that chance, but then we wouldn’t have had the excellent No Time to Die, this feels very much like had it been made 10 years ago, Elba’s audition for 007 – it even has a final act ripped straight from the pages of a Bond movie, and the next chapter looks set to make this Elba’s own Bond franchise rather than waiting for a role that will never come. To his credit, Elba’s done anything but that – he’s made Luther his own character. The supporting cast, Cynthia Erivo and Dermot Crowley, are both excellent – I like that the cast here is tight and constrained. This leads to multiple situations where Luther finds himself in objectively busy locations like Piccadilly Circus – but the situations feel closed off and as tense as ever, scaled down to create frightening situations where the stakes feel real. The stunning lighting creates an atmospheric back-alley locations that really creates a noirish feel too - I would've loved more of London beyond the usual tourist spots, something that the original show was so good at - we've seen a chase scene in Piccadilly tons of times - and down those very tube station steps - but Luther makes the location its own.

Completely sincere but also completely ruthless, Luther: The Fallen Sun is harsh, nihilistic cinema that carries John Luther to the big screen (even if you’re probably watching it on Netflix, the film did have a limited cinema run). In terms of tv-to-movie adaptions, you can’t go far wrong here – but once again, this is a rallying cry to watch the excellent series if you haven’t already. Whilst the loss of one of the all-time greatest tv creations Alice, is deeply felt - Ruth Wilson's abscene is made up for by a killer cast giving it their all. It can feel a bit Hollywood at times - and that's reflected in the major London landmarks being the only source of location for London, but at the end of the day - it's new Luther. You've been missed, John. Welcome back.

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