It’s hard to remember a time before the refrain ‘Idris Elba should be the next Bond’ was commonplace. It’s been an inescapable (and, to be fair, rather accurate) sentiment for years and years now. Now, though, Elba himself has, with Luther movie The Fallen Sun, taken himself out of the running for Britain’s premiere spy role, instead clearly aiming to launch his own globetrotting franchise. The Fallen Sun is the first in what is very clearly planned to be at least of few feature-length takes on the adventures of unstoppable London copper John Luther – Bond never came to Elba, so here he is building an icon of his own.

It’s an aim that The Fallen Sun only sometimes fully delivers on as it riffs on, in particular, the Sam Mendes Bonds of Skyfall and Spectre across a deeply silly plot that feels of a piece with the later seasons of the show, though perhaps not raising the stakes high enough. Picking up after the conviction of Season 5’s villains, The Fallen Sun funds Luther searching for a kidnapped teenager. Unfortunately for Luther, the kidnapper is demented tech-genius psychopath David Robey (Andy Serkis), who uses his powers of blackmail and a nebulously defined network of hackers to get Luther locked up for his not exactly by-the-book conduct in previous cases.

From here, it’s on Luther to bust out of the clink and hunt down Robey through the slightly alt-universe noir version of London that show creator Neil Cross has long made Luther’s home across a series of increasingly ludicrous set-pieces, all while being hunted by his replacement DCI, Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo). Though Robey’s scheme falls apart at the slightest questioning of its logic, Serkis still makes for an enjoyably dastardly villain, even if he’s often styled to look like a psychotic Alan Titchmarsh. The way he revels in his sadism is genuinely creepy, and director Jamie Payne (who also worked on the later seasons of the show) conjures up some great moments of macabre imagery, from a mass suicide in Piccadilly Circus to a frozen Norwegian lake filled to the brim with corpses under the ice.

It’s in this trip to Norway, along with the casting of Serkis as the villain, that earns The Fallen Sun its ‘real movie’ stripes, as otherwise the move to feature length can feel a bit pointless – a lot of the show’s stories took up two episodes, so this runtime and even the plot complexity and violence don’t really bring anything new to the Luther table. There are some other attempts at expanding the scope, like the prison riot that allows Luther to break out, but the obligatory single-take fight sequence that forms the centrepiece of this scene is rather unconvincing, while one pivotal moment is rather ruined by some incredibly distracting prosthetics..

All the way up to a very funny and cheeky ending, The Fallen Sun (a title that never really makes sense) is being pitched as a launchpad for further adventures into the Luther-verse (a world now being backed by Netflix dollars) and, on this evidence, I’d be happy enough to watch a couple more. It’s hardly essential, or a Bond-beater, but if there’s any genre that can benefit from the endless franchise obsession of modern Hollywood, it’s exactly this sort of mysterious and grisly noir that demands little for an entertaining return.


Directed by Jamie Payne

Written by Neil Cross

Starring; Idris Elba, Andy Serkis, Cynthia Erivo

Runtime: 129 mins

Rating: 15