Brilliant but disgraced detective John Luther breaks out of prison to hunt down a sadistic serial killer who is terrorizing London.
The “Luther” series continues with Idris Elba as the British detective, John Luther, whose case of a missing boy turns deadly. This keenly observant detective gets a little too close to the truth which places him as a target of the demented killer David Robey (Andy Serkis).
The tactics this murderous man orchestrates reveals a plot which no one should have dreamed let alone created in film form. Robey uses internet secrets to lure victims then capture, torture and ultimately brutally kill them. As Luther begins to follow the breadcrumbs inadvertently leading him to the ring of internet hacks lead by Robey, he is thrown under the bus, figuratively, and winds up behind bars. And from this position, he is unable to not only solve his case, but prevent countless murders in the near future.
Luther must break out of jail, call in a few favors, and stop this mad man, but with the law out to find him and Robey out to kill him, it’s a high stakes thriller that doesn’t promise a happy ending. On the surface, the story is a captivating one and, let’s face it, with Elba at the helm, it’s even more inviting. While I haven’t seen the numerous precursors to this stand-alone project, I think I’m safe to say, there’s a formula here and they follow it.
Elba easily morphs into the tough guy persona who is willing to break a few rules to find justice and put the really bad guys behind bars. There’s not a lot of depth here or even a backstory that the writers are willing to delve into, but “Luther” isn’t really that kind of movie. It’s an action flick and action it has. Serkis who usually “hides” behind the motion capture suits to create memorable characters like Gollum from “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy and Caesar in “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” dives deeply into this evil role. The nuances of facial expressions and body language create a menacing man sending chills down your spine. Cynthia Erivo finds herself on the right side of the law as a detective, Odette Raine, focused on solving the recent murder and re-capturing Luther. Their paths, however, intersect in the most unexpecting way, plunging her into Robey’s path.
As I have not seen the other films in the Luther franchise based upon the BBC Television series by Neil Cross, I am unsure if those films are as gratuitously violent like “Fallen Sun.” When this rendition focuses upon the story even amidst the preposterous scenes (how did Luther fight off countless armed guards and imprisoned criminals but he couldn’t fight off the likes of Serkis’s Robey, or hiking a mile and a half in the cold mountains of Norway with no gloves or hat, and wearing a pair of dress shoes), it’s one that intrigued me. Unfortunately, this cat and mouse game leads us along a circuitous path, dragging us along unwillingly at times, and focuses heavily upon torture scenes and incomprehensible violence.
To develop a script with this extreme conceptual violence is reprehensible. Leaving something to our imaginations and using suggestions instead of visually beating us over the head helps the viewer enjoy a thriller much more than witnessing inconceivable brutality. At the heart of the film is an intriguing social statement about the internet and the dangers within, but the overall effect of the film is more than disappointing, it’s angering and upsetting and I can’t unsee it.
The students in my film classes often have a problem with the old “suspension of disbelief” thing. They are at the age where they know EVERYTHING and are eager to prove just how smart they are by pointing out each and every incongruity that pops up in the movies we watch. Age has taught me there are certain battles you just don’t fight, so I let them pick away, throwing away one opportunity after another to be swept away to another world or become immersed in a fantastic story. I’m hoping they’ll grow out of it.
And yet, there are times when I too have a problem with this concept, especially when filmmakers don’t explain key factors in their story, hoping they can employ enough razzle dazzle to distract us from the shortcomings of their premise. Such is the case with “Luther: The Fallen Son,” a feature film based on the BBC television series that wallows in gratuitous violence and outright sadism. And while this is a major flaw in the story’s execution, the bigger problem is the many unanswered questions that pop up, its characters pulling off impossible feats, its villain inexplicably having immeasurable at his command.
London police detective John Luther (Idris Elba) has been assigned a difficult case. The dead body of a woman missing for six years has been found in a car, a young man murdered nearby. How and why this occurred is just the tip of an implausible scheme that becomes not simply more and more outlandish but more and more gruesome in its execution as well. However, our hero is quickly taken off the case when evidence of Luther’s past vigilante activities is splashed across the press and he’s quickly put behind bars.
While he’s in the hoosegow, David Robey (Andy Serkis) unleashes a plan in which he forces various people to do nefarious deeds for him. Seems he has a VAST network of computer hackers who eavesdrop on thousands of Londoners via their smart TVS, baby monitors or computers, recording their internet activity and behind-closed-doors intimacies. Surprise! Turns out more than a few folks visit websites or commit acts in the privacy of their own homes they wouldn’t want their neighbors to know about.
Now, having seen none of the “Luther” television series, I thought perhaps the Robey character had appeared on that show and had a backstory. There isn’t, so again I’m left wondering how this guy has James Bond villain resources in which to pull off a plan that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. And, I know I’m being unreasonable in asking, but just why does he have a penchant for hanging 20-somethings and burning their dead bodies in front of their parents or feels the need to compel a large number of people to kill themselves by simultaneously jumping off buildings around Piccadilly Circus? No reason is ever given. I’m just wondering…
This is an incredibly ugly film in tone and intent. I realize violence is the linchpin of so many movies, an instrument wielded by its characters and a hook to get viewers to turn in. However, there’s a tasteful approach in presenting it and then another that appeals to immature teenage boys. Director Jamie Payne embraces the latter with abandon, unleashing one unsettling sight after another, assaulting the viewer with abandon. “Luther: The Fallen Sun” isn’t entertainment – it’s a vicious exercise that eschews logic, opting instead to rub the viewer’s face in the gratuitous violence it wallows in.