Luther The Fallen Sun review: Idris Elba returns in brutal, entertaining movie

Idris Elba in Luther: The Fallen SunNetflix

Luther: The Fallen Sun, Netflix’s big-screen return of the BBC’s hardboiled, coat-flapping detective, delivers the goods: a villain with a nasty modus operandi and Idris Elba battering people.

Getting a late-night bus and sitting on the top deck alone, going to bed, opening the door to someone who tells you they’re a police officer: Luther envisaged the worst-case scenario of all of these, whether it’s a satanic obsessive licking your face or a man snaking out from underneath you.

Elba’s smoldering, haymaker copper was a plus, but he wasn’t the true appeal of the original show: it was the sickening darkness of its baddies and TV’s most beguiling temptress with Ruth Wilson’s Alice Morgan.

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Wilson doesn’t return – gutting, I know – but Luther: The Fallen Sun dutifully serves its audience with a frightening serial-killer thriller, while also setting up a promising future for the character.

Luther The Fallen Sun boasts a scary villain

While not matching the chest-hollowing oomph of its scariest openers, Fallen Sun creepily lays out the conceit of its killer from the off: a young man receives a call asking him to be somewhere in 15 minutes, lest certain screenshots are shared with his girlfriend and mum. Soon after, he’s kidnapped.

The villain is David Robey (Andy Serkis), a man who hacks people’s tech and blackmails them over their dirty deeds: footage of people masturbating, men and women in affairs, suicidal messages, etc. The premise gets under your skin immediately (as Elba says, we all “live our secret lives online”) until you remember it isn’t all that original – if you’ve seen Chatroom and Black Mirror’s ‘Shut Up and Dance’, that is.

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Initially, Luther promises the boy’s mother he’ll find her – Robey doesn’t like that. By leaning on a mysterious source, he manages to parse through the skeletons in the closet of Luther’s analog existence and put him in jail, allowing him to plan the horrific endgame of his reign of terror.

While Dermot Crowley reprises his role as DSU Martin Schenk, Luther’s loyal, clinical gaffer, it’s an otherwise all-new cast, including Cynthia Erivo as DCI Odette Raine.

Don’t expect a retread – Luther moves forward

Credit where due to Neil Cross, the movie’s writer and overall franchise creator: he doesn’t dip into the world of the dark web – he plunges. With Serkis’ scene-stealing performance, he’s more than nightmarish – he’s a little too real, and it makes you consider every bit of smart tech lying around your home. There’s a few callbacks for the fans (Cameron Pell gets a mention), but it’s not indulgent: it’s an actual continuation, not a retread.

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Director Jamie Payne, who helmed Season 5, deftly handles the ground-level, on-the-prowl bread-and-butter of Luther, but there’s still water-cooler moments: one jump scare made me yelp like Homer Simpson, and a Piccadilly Circus set-piece is so harrowingly realized it made me forget the infuriating plot armor around it. Barring some glaring VFX stitches and PS3-level fake fire, it’s all quite slick – maybe too slick, as the fights don’t have the same raw physicality of something like Nobody.


For the Kubrick hive, you may be stunned (if not alarmed) to find out the cinematographer: Larry Smith, who served as DP on Eyes Wide Shut. One shocking scene in a mansion almost harks back to the haute aesthetic surrounding the orgy, but this is a hired-gun job. Few compositions stand out, mostly feeling stuck with the same visual makeup as the show.

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Lorne Balfe has become one of Hollywood’s most prolific composers, but don’t come in expecting some BRAHM-heavy bangers. The score is fine, and the original theme is sampled exactly when you’d expect.

And what about Elba, then? His greatest line reading will forever be, “We are canceling the apocalypse!”, but Luther is undoubtedly his most iconic performance – for good reason. For the actor, channeling the detective’s tireless, swaggering energy seems as easy as putting on a jacket. He may not have the smarmy wit of your Sherlocks, or the I-say-I-say drawl of Benoit Blanc, but Luther has movie chops. If this is the start of a trilogy, I have one demand: bring back Alice.

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Luther The Fallen Sun review score: 3/5

Luther: The Fallen Sun is an entertaining launchpad for Idris Elba’s no-bullsh*t detective; it’s not quite the streaming equivalent of a “DVD movie”, but fans will get what they want from it.

Luther: The Fallen Sun is in limited theaters now and will premiere globally on Netflix on March 10.