The last time we encountered Idris Elba as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, he was ‘cuffed up and under arrest for a multitude of murders, for which he was, in fact, completely innocent.
As cliffhangers go, the end of Luther Season 5 was a doozy, and now — four years on — we’re to finally find out what happened after that dramatic series five closer, with the release of the long-promised Luther feature film The Fallen Sun on Netflix today.
But how did we get to that point? To prep you for Luther’s inaugural big-screen adventure, here’s the story so far, from that very first TV episode in May 2010 to his final terrestrial outing on 4 January 2019…
Luther: Season one | 2010
When we first meet maverick cop DCI John Luther (Idris Elba), he’s working for London’s Serious Crime Unit and separated from his wife, Zoe (Indira Varma), who’s now shacked up with new beau, Mark (Paul McGann).
Unlike later series, season one pits Luther against a different antagonist each episode, including a Satanist who kidnaps women and drains them of their blood, a former army sniper who’s targeting random civilians and a serial killer who robs his victims of their jewellery.
But threaded through those six episodes is Alice Morgan (Ruth Wilson), an icy, Oxford-educated psychopath who develops a close, quasi-romantic relationship with our rule-bending hero. The season climaxes with Luther’s colleague, DCI Ian Reed (Steven Mackintosh), murdering Zoe, before being gunned down by Alice. Cue Nina Simone’s Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood.
Luther: Season two | 2011
Luther’s second series jettisoned the episodic format, and was made up instead of two two-part stories. In the first, Luther is tasked with finding a Punch mask-wearing serial killer (Lee Ingleby) who bases himself on the 19th century folkloric figure Spring-Heeled Jack, while at the same time attempting to rescue a teenage girl (Aimee-Ffion Edwards) from the world of organised crime.
Read more: First look at the Luther movie
In the second story, a set of twins (both played by Steven Robertson) begin a series of random attacks, deciding their victims’ fate on the roll on a dice (it’s Luther’s computer whizz colleague Benny Silver who makes the role-playing game association).
Alice, meanwhile, starts the series incarcerated at a mental institution, but escapes when a visiting Luther wedges a keycard into an apple and lobs it over the wall. Later, she tells Luther she’s leaving the country for Mexico. Hasta luego!
Luther: Season three | 2013
Another run of four episodes, made up of two double-parters. In the first story, Luther finds himself on the trail of a murderer who, it turns out, is being manipulated by a now ageing serial killer, while in the second, our hero is assigned to hunt a vigilante killer, Tom Marwood (Elliot Cowan), who targets criminals whom he believes deserve to die.
While all this is going on, DS Justin Ripley (Warren Brown) is co-opted into an investigation into Luther’s, let’s say ‘unconventional’ policing methods, before he’s popped by Marwood. The series ends with a returning Alice stabbing Marwood in the neck before absconding.
Luther: Season four | 2015
Just one two-part story this time. Several months on from the end of series three, Luther is lying low in a rundown shack on the coast, before he’s drawn back into policing when a cannibalistic serial killer (John Heffernan), suffering from Cotard syndrome (that’s a condition where someone holds the belief that they’re actually dead), begins a murder spree.
At the same time, Luther is told that Alice Morgan is dead, and discovers that an organised crime boss named George Cornelius (Patrick Malahide) was instrumental in her death.
Luther: Season five | 2019
Luther’s final season, screened over four nights in January 2019, looked very much like a full stop. In it, Luther finds himself investigating a man (Enzo Cilenti) who leads a respectable life as a surgeon by day, but by night is a ruthless killer, aided in his crimes by his psycho psychologist wife (Hermione Norris). But our favourite DCI also has to contend with George Cornelius, who blames Luther for the kidnap of his son, who it turns out has been abducted by Alice Morgan – who wasn’t dead after all. Quelle surprise!
Cornelius hires a hitman who kills Luther’s long-time buddy Benny (Michael Smiley) only for George to shoot the assassin dead, framing Luther for the murder. The series ends with Alice falling to her apparent death and Luther under arrest.
Luther: The Fallen Sun | 2023
And so here we are. Four years after being led away in cuffs, John Luther is back for his first feature film. Penned by series creator Neil Cross and directed by Jamie Payne (who helmed all four episodes of season five), Luther: The Fallen Sun begins with our hero in the clink, while London finds itself terrorised by yet another serial killer, someone that Netflix’s official synopsis describes as a “cyber psychopath” (Andy Serkis).
“When I first read the script I literally wanted to have a shower,” the Gollum actor told Good Morning Britain recently. “It was one of the darkest parts I've ever been offered and I did almost consider not doing it.”
“It's so well directed,” he went on. “For people who loved the TV series, this is on an elevated, bigger scale of that.”
What the critics think of Luther: The Fallen Sun
Evening Standard: It's good to have Idris Elba's crime-fighter back (3 min read)
Independent: Netflix film makes a good case for Idris Elba as the next Batman (3 min read)
Digital Spy: Luther: The Fallen Sun is more of the same – for better and worse (3 min read)
“We always knew that season five was the end of DCI John Luther,” Neil Cross told Zavvi recently. “He couldn’t get his badge back after that, which meant there had to be a new dynamic in place for the movie.”
Even though Luther won’t be a DCI in this, rest easy, the trench coat is back, as is his former boss (and one of the few Luther regulars who isn’t now dead), Martin Schenk (Dermot Crowley). So although this won’t quite be the Luther of old, with its gritty London locations and grisly serial killer baddie, this is still very much the Luther we’ve all grown to love since 2010.
Roll on the sequel.
Luther: The Fallen Sun is streaming on Netflix now. Watch a trailer below.