Not much of a TV to movie transition.
From “The X-Files” to “Downton Abbey,” current hit live-action shows can get films, which may seem like extended episodes, but actually keep their fans watching and supporting the transition. The same can’t really be said for “Luther: The Fallen Sun,” in which Idris Elba reprises his role on the BBC series as Detective John Luther. We see him in prison for his illegal activities, while a serial killer is on the loose in London and manipulates victims through technology. But being brilliant and ambitious, he must break out to crack the case.
I haven’t watched the show, but I do like Elba in the role, because of how he shifts from one situation to the next, and how his acting elevates the character. He’s the kind of sleuth who deserves a better movie treatment than “The Fallen Sun” can provide. Yes, he can overcome whatever his adversaries throw at him, but he’s not given the kind of development for those unfamiliar with the series.
Among the new actors to enter this series-to-film transition, Cynthia Erivo co-stars as an agent named Odette Raine, who must track down the prison escapee, while Andy Serkis is the cyber villain named David Robey.
Odette is persistent to bring Luther to justice, blaming him for the recent abductions, but reluctantly joins forces with him when the villain kidnaps her daughter. And David has a webpage where user can watch and vote for how many of the victims he has abducted should be killed. And he also leaves audio recordings of his victims’ screams right next to their corpses.
You get a scene when people throw themselves off buildings and when other people get run over by cars. You get other scenes when people are hanged and burned. And you even have Luther threatening to pierce an informant in the eye with a tattoo needle. And you’re wondering what the point of those scenes were. Are they trying to be in the style of “Seven?” Are they trying to cater to the R-rating? It’s not completely gruesome, but it all seems tedious and silly.
And you also have to have the scene when Hattie Morahan as the mother of one of the victims criticizes Luther for not saving her son in time. It’s another tired cliche of the parent blaming a hero for their son’s death, trying to top the famous dramatic moment in “Jaws.” And this one has to end like a fly swap.
Writer Neil Cross (the creator of the BBC series) and director Jamie Payne (who directed 4 episodes) both manage to guide Elba and Erivo with attitude in the rogue detective and persistent cop characterization. But they can’t make this TV-to-movie transition stand on its own, despite those two leads. And they can’t even make Serkis’ character a convincing or fresh villain. He’s presented as more of a cartoonish figure, who starts to annoy you, and he’s a great actor. They’re all great actors, but they’re given a weak script.
“Luther: The Fallen Sun” has the potential to make it on the big screen and then on Netflix (which distributes it), but given the decisions made here, it’s not necessary. It’s just boring.
Now Playing in Select Theaters
Streaming on Netflix March 10