Luther: The Fallen Sun is more of the same – for better and worse

idris elba as john luther, luther the fallen sun
Is Netflix's Luther movie worth a watch?Netflix

It's been a little over four years since we last saw Idris Elba's uncompromising detective John Luther, and things weren't exactly looking up for him.

At the end of the five-season run of Luther on BBC, he was being locked up for various transgressions over the years. That could have been that, but he's back for more in his first big-screen outing with Luther: The Fallen Sun, written by series creator Neil Cross.

Unsurprisingly, for his feature-length debut, this isn't a Luther take on The Shawshank Redemption. Another twisted serial killer is terrorising London and Luther, being Luther, knows that he's the only person who can stop him, which he plans to do as soon as he breaks out of prison.

The scope might be bigger, but this is still Luther as we know it – a dark and slightly ludicrous serial-killer hunt that'll satisfy the show's fans, although one that probably won't win round newcomers.

idris elba as john luther, luther the fallen sun

As good as Idris Elba is as Luther (and he remains as compelling, fitting back into the role as comfortably as Luther puts on his trench coat), each series of Luther lived or died based on its villain. There's a reason that series one remains unmatched, thanks to Ruth Wilson's Alice.

Enter David Robey, played by Lord of the Rings and Andor star Andy Serkis. He's a tech billionaire who uses technology to carry out his serial-killing ways and by Luther standards, he makes Alice look like a sweetheart.

Serkis is compelling, using his chameleonic skills to convincingly make Robey the type of person you could imagine yourself trusting, while also creeping you out. The star has said he needed a wash after reading the script, and you'll feel the same with Robey's work resulting in gruesome, chilling tableaux.

As good as Serkis is though, there is a feeling of déjà vu with his villain. We won't go into spoilers, but there are echoes of Black Mirror episode 'Shut Up and Dance', while Robey's reasoning isn't really developed beyond, 'Because I'm evil, innit'.

andy serkis, luther the fallen sun

And Robey sure is evil. Luther: The Fallen Sun is unrelentingly bleak and it could prove too grim for some Luther fans with scenes of mass suicide and Hostel-esque kill rooms. There is still that ludicrous edge of the show to enjoy though that, very infrequently, takes the edge off the bleakness.

Take, for instance, the scene where Luther goes to a hideout where he's kept the essentials. There's cash, naturally, but also a trench coat that he then puts on much like a superhero putting on their suit. Luther then stands on the rooftop of a nearby building to surveil London, probably a knowing echo to a similar shot in Skyfall and to Elba's constant James Bond links.

It's an odd blend – the macabre and the ridiculous – but it's one that Luther fans have long accepted as a trait of the show. Whether the movie will then be able to pull in new fans is the question as, even though it effectively acts as a soft reboot, it's a divisive tone, especially when the plot is so relentlessly grim.

hattie morahan, luther the fallen sun

The movie can't quite escape the trappings of a TV movie despite the final act taking Luther outside of London to the stunning landscapes of Iceland. It's never quite cinematic enough otherwise and feels like it could be a two-parter, with an obvious section that could act as a cliffhanger to part one.

For Luther fans though, Luther: The Fallen Sun is more of the same and an improvement on the lacklustre final season. It doesn't hit the heights of the show's peak, but has an excellent villain and like the best of Luther, will leave you anxiously checking behind you next time you're in London.

Luther: The Fallen Sun is available to watch now on Netflix.

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