Idris Elba Is Back in Turbulent Thriller Sequel

Feb 25, 2023

After a TV show’s natural conclusion, the prospect of a revival movie to keep the story alive in some form or fashion isn’t always guaranteed. Yet that hasn’t stopped fans from perpetually clamoring for a follow-up to Neil Cross’s hit BBC crime drama Luther, which starred Idris Elba in the titular role of DCI John Luther, an investigator who isn’t afraid to occasionally bend — or even break — the law in his direct pursuit of justice. When an official sequel movie was finally announced, there was cautious optimism around Luther: The Fallen Sun, given Cross and Elba’s involvement as well as the fact that final season director Jamie Payne had been tapped to helm the project for Netflix. As for where we left off with Luther himself, the possibilities seemed somewhat limited at the time — longtime viewers of the show will recall that the original series ended with the disgraced DCI going to prison, with the cuffs slapped on by none other than friend and boss Martin Schenk (Luther Crowley). That said, if you thought Luther was going to let a little thing like lockdown stop him from solving another serial murder case, then you’ve got another think coming.

Luther: The Fallen Sun has a fair amount of work to do, both in establishing the necessary backstory for familiar and new viewers and in laying the foundation for Luther’s latest foe to be painted as one of the greatest nemeses he’s ever faced. Naturally, there’s a bit of retconning involved in order to establish psychopathic tech billionaire David Robey (an always-unsettling and thoroughly effective Andy Serkis) as the orchestrator of Luther’s present circumstances, but the film’s pace is such that it doesn’t give you much room to pause and dwell on how it could have all happened.

Therein lies one of The Fallen Sun’s most prominent aspects — for better or worse, this thing starts off at a quick pace and only ever shifts to breakneck speed, but it’s a decision that makes sense in the context of the overall story. Not only is Robey taunting Luther as the former detective sits in his prison cell, surrounded by other inmates who would love nothing more than to off him at the first available opportunity, but the clock is ticking on a greater threat to the unsuspecting public — and Luther realizes that in order to catch this murderer, he’s going to have to break the law once again, harder than he’s ever broken it before.

Image via Netflix

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It might be strange to say that it’s good to be back with Elba as Luther again, given how fast and loose he’s always played with the rules, but this is in large part due to all the layers the actor brings to a character he’s inhabited for years. Like the wool long coat Luther inevitably slips back into, it feels like Elba never stopped playing the role, to begin with. He’s a comfort to watch, with Luther’s confidence, intensity, and shrewd investigative capabilities grounding the plot even when some of its other elements might be more lacking.

The film never makes it clear exactly how long he’s been languishing behind bars (unless we’re supposed to intuit that it’s about the same gap that exists between this story and the Season 5 finale), but regardless of whether he’s been in prison for weeks or years at this point, the threats against his safety haven’t eased up. If anything, they’ve only worsened, which is how Luther gets the idea to orchestrate his jailbreak — by using all the hostility his fellow inmates bear against him in his favor. This kicks off what might be one of the most brutal stunt sequences in the entire film, as Elba barrels his way through wave after wave of men with murder on their minds, trading vicious blows until he’s sweaty, exhausted, and severely out of breath. (It’s also the closest he’ll likely ever come to offering us all a glimpse at the James-Bond-that-could-have-been.)

Once he’s successfully become a free man, however, Luther also finds himself a wanted man, and that only lends itself to a building tension overall. While he’s solely fixated on hunting Robey and bringing the cyber-terrorist to justice, his former department is tasked with the same — but they’re also hunting Luther, trying to hide the fact that one of their own discredited officers has broken himself out of prison and is now leading the charge on this investigation. More evidence is provided around the possibility that it’s at least been several years since Luther was incarcerated, because the new lead detective on the case, Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo), has only heard of him by name and reputation, not from personal experience. Over the course of the film, it’s Raine who suffers the most from a mere lack of runtime, relegated to the role of an adversarial presence as Luther closes in on his target. Given the sheer acting brilliance we’ve seen from Erivo in the past, it feels like an especially egregious waste of her talents, but she and Elba play beautifully against one another, making for each other’s best scene partners whenever they do share the screen.

Image via Netflix

The biggest drawback to making this story a sequel film rather than a revival season is the part where The Fallen Sun doesn’t seem to have enough time to develop all of its elements, leaving many plot components either half-baked or barely established before the story demands its characters move on. It has no difficulty setting up Robey as the main antagonist, with a staggering amount of resources at his disposal through which he ruthlessly manipulates people into doing his bidding, but it also establishes that he’s not a one-man operation either. A verifiable network of hackers at Robey’s fingertips, capable of infiltrating internet-connected devices in everyone’s home, is a more insidious concept than the film has time to fully address and might have been even better explored in a series of episodes rather than with a limiting two hours and change. Where The Fallen Sun does transcend those previous seasons, however, is in scope — it’s clear that Netflix has put up the budget behind this project, allowing the thrilling story to travel beyond the familiar London skyscape and into some other striking locations.

In terms of sequel potential, The Fallen Sun leaves the door open for more to come — and understandably so, since it resurrects one of the best performances in the crime genre within the last several decades of television. But the story and its leads more than prove that it could have also been revived in a longer format, which is where Luther and his dedication to dismantling darkness have always thrived best in the past. The character, and who he tangles up with while falling down the rabbit hole into yet another investigation, will never not be enough to entice viewers to tune in once more, regardless of how much time we get to spend in this world. Ultimately, The Fallen Sun proves that Idris Elba never needed to be James Bond when he could just be DCI John Luther.

Rating: B

Luther: The Fallen Sun will premiere in select theaters starting February 24 before dropping on Netflix on March 10.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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