Despite Idris Elba’s fame, “Luther: The Fallen Sun” has a dim light.
The sad reality of “Luther” is that, despite Idris Elba’s star power continuously rising, the BBC America series gradually deteriorated and contrived after a stellar premiere. Following five irregularly spaced seasons spanning a decade, Netflix’s “Luther: The Fallen Sun,” a gloomy and uninspired encore with echoes of “Seven,” brings troubled detective John Luther back.
While the first season of “Luther” featured an intriguing cat-and-mouse game between the shrewd detective and the psychotic Alice (played to perfection by Ruth Wilson), later seasons switched to a familiar serial-killer-of-the-year format with villains who were so sick and evil that Luther felt justified in doing pretty much anything – including breaking the law and the rules – to stop them.
The fifth season had Luther imprisoned for breaking the boundary, a depressing story when it was released in 2019. The tension seemed to have achieved its logical climax there.
Even still, Elba’s continued commitment to a role he first played in 2010—despite being dubbed the “Sexiest Man Alive” and being spoken about as a potential James Bond—clearly proved too alluring to pass up, even though the subsequent seasons’ dwindling runtimes showed the limits of that dedication.
Enter Andy Serkis in just-this-side-of-Gollum mode in “The Fallen Sun,” who plays a serial murderer who owes more to Bond villains than anything else. He launches a complex plot while taunting Luther in jail, which causes Luther to act outrageously to stop him.
By phone, Luther asserts, “I’m still a copper,” to the inspector on his trail, played by the underemployed Cynthia Erivo, who calls Luther’s former supervisor Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley) out of retirement to assist in finding him.
The series’ creator Neil Cross and director Jamie Payne (who also oversaw the fifth season) came up with the idea for the killer, and Andy Serkis’ flamboyant portrayal of the villain comes from a unique line of monsters with a theatrical streak who specialize in gruesome deaths while managing to appear to be everywhere at once.
Luther says of the murderer, “He wants an audience,” but perhaps even more than that, he needs a worthy adversary, in this case DCI John Luther.
Despite Idris Elba’s fame “Luther: The Fallen Sun” Perhaps “The Falling Sun” will provide some motivation for completists as well as fans of Elba. The movie format additionally enables Cross and the in-demand star to work with a larger canvas.
The title, though, seems especially appropriate for a series that first burned pretty brightly but eventually fizzled, dimmed, and flamed out despite the light and heat generated by its charismatic star.
Before its March 10 release on Netflix, “Luther: The Fallen Sun” has its theatrical debut on February 24 in a few cinemas. R is the rating.
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