What’s the Movie/Show? Luther: The Fallen Sun
What’s It All About, JG? When last we saw him, Luther’s increasingly extreme measures caught up with him and it was to jail with the disgraced DCI. The Fallen Sun picks up with the self-same Luther (Idris Elba, of course) in prison, where he’s broadcast the sound of people being tortured to death. Nice. This is all being orchestrated by David Robey (Andy Serkis), a wealthy psychopath who enjoys using surveillance tech in order to get people to kill themselves and/or cause convenient plot distractions.
Luther escapes from prison to stop him. There is, inevitably, a mole in the police investigation as DCI Raine (Cynthia Erivo) and Luther’s former colleagues try to get him back to jail while also pursuing Robey. The whole thing ends up in Norway, with Robey having build a “Red Bunker” – a torture chamber where Luther and Raine end up having to fight each other for the prurient interests of watching pervs. The police turn up to shut down the bunker, and Robey ends up drowned at the bottom of a lake. Luther is flown back to England to recover to recover from his wounds, but is offered a potential way out of going back to prison, as MI5 are maybe offering him a job. Watch this space…?
Why Did You Give It A Go? Well, it’s Luther. And it was a great series! The inevitability of watching it was pretty much insurmountable. I mean, it’s not that Luther needed a sequel or another go-around or anything, but if one is out there it would seem silly not to check it out.
Is It Any Good? Well, I’d certainly say that it exists, but beyond that “good” remains weirdly hard to land for something which has such a stacked cast and such a great history behind it. It’s not bad, but it never really elevates itself either and that makes it a frustrating watch.
One of the things the original Luther series was great at was finding a balance between was was essentially a police procedural and the more ludicrous or outlandish elements of the plot. Luther often had grand guignol plotting but getting that to work alongside a show that was rooted in the traditions of British police TV shows was what make the original such fun. It was, in other words, a very careful balancing act, but The Fallen Sun just can’t pull it off in the same way.
The theory of Andy Serkis’s Robey is fine on paper, for example, but in practice it just doesn’t cohere into anything. Serkis himself is weirdly miscast – he’s a fantastic live-action actor usually but he struggles to get much traction on the character. Certainly Robey never comes across as scary or threatening in any way and the slightly giggly, childish performance that Serkis goes for never hardens into anything remotely worrying. He’s the very definition of a panto villain, there for Our Hero to stop but never managing to remotely convince as a threat. Serkis ought to be ideal casting for that kind of role but here he simply… isn’t.
And the rest of the plot is just a ropey series of cliches strung out over an unnecessarily-long two and a half hours. As a Netflix movie, rather than a TV show, The Fallen Sun just can’t paper over the cracks. In a TV series you can get away with a certain amount of contrivance because not every detail will be immediately recalled on a week-to-week basis, but a movie needs to be more structured and this one isn’t. It’s just a series of plot points. The Contrived Prison Break. The Mole In the Police Department. Also, The Other Mole In The Police Department. The Hot-Button Topic. It’s just terribly rote and the script never quite manages to find that Luther magic. It’s fun watching Elba step back into the role – but that’s all it is.
How Many Of These Did You Watch? I’ve seen all of the original BBC series. How sad it is that The Fallen Sun doesn’t really inspire me to hope for more, unlike the previous season/series finale.
Would You Recommend It? Not much. Again, it’s not bad as such, just terribly uninspired. So much of the plot hinges on the idea that when we get to Norway (Norway!) the bunker will end up being this Big Dramatic Reveal but it never is – it’s just another thing Luther needs to get past in order to bring the movie to a conclusion.
Idris Elba also struggles a bit to get back into the role. There are odd moments that the Luther of the past pokes out, like when he’s frantically threatening a tattooist who might have information about who was broadcasting the murders to Luther while he was in prison as the police draw ever closer. There’s some proper tension and drama there. But for the most part he’s a bit sleepy. Even when he’s being stabbed in the bunker there’s never that much sense of Luther being threatened, which maybe explains why Elba can’t quite get the same conviction. Rather than there being much sense of events closing in – the paranoia and closing-jaws that made the original so compelling – there are instead just events, a series of Things That Happen. That doesn’t give Elba much to get his teeth into and, sure enough, he doesn’t.
As for the rest of the cast they’re… fine. Cynthia Erivo is a rather appealing presence as DCI Raine, hard-nosed but likable, yet the character is immediately undermined by the whole kidnapped-daughter thing to add her to the list of moles Luther has to deal with. It’s just lazy writing, that. It’s lovely to have Dermot Crowley back as Schenk, he’s always a welcome presence, but you’d be hard-pressed to say he’s essential to anything that happens here, he’s just a link back to the original show. And beyond that nobody else makes much of an impression, they just turn up, say their lines, and bugger off again.
Oh and then there’s that weird ending, where apparently Luther might end up being an MI5 agent or something? It looks more like a set-up for The Avengers (Steed and Mrs Peel edition, not Spandex and Superheroes) than it does a continuation of the semi-credible police show Luther once was. I mean, I’d love to see a version of The Avengers starring Idris Elba, but there’s nothing about that concept that particularly screams the need to have Luther in it.
Anyway, who knows if anything will come of that? It would be nice to think something might, because if The Fallen Sun is the last we see of Luther then that would be pretty disappointing. Fallen indeed.
Scores On The Doors? 6/10