Luther: The Fallen Sun

★ | My sun, my sun, what have ye done?

Luther: The Fallen Sun

Escalation is a fickle mistress.

The first series of Luther, released 13 years ago, felt massive. In retrospect, it's almost quaint how small its scale was. But because it knew the strength of its locale, characters, and mystery, it reached mythic heights on charisma alone.

There was a sense that what we're seeing was an urban legend coming to life. A story of a husk of a cop, a beast pretending he's still a man, facing a monster so comfortable in their skin it made him question his very existence.

Out on Friday, March 10th, Luther: The Fallen Sun is a whole other beast. Bigger, showier, and less effective than any of the previous series. It's a film so invested in emulating the James Bond formula that it loses its own sense of self.

Moreover, it feels remarkably dated. The plot, a hodgepodge of internet hysteria, torture porn, and rogue cops doing good, would be more at home in the early 2000s. Today, it elicits laughs where it shouldn't. Especially when it comes to anything related to technology, which the script treats like black magic.

Series star Idris Elba is a saving grace. His gruff, monstrous Luther is one of the great TV characters of the past decade. Even at the dumbest points of The Fallen Sun, his presence keeps the film from slipping away entirely.

Meanwhile, Andy Serkis, a brilliant actor capable of great nuance, chews scenery like it's going out of style. His villain barely registers even as a caricature. It's only thanks to Serkis that we remember who he is when he's off-screen.

Then there's the escalation. Everything about Luther: The Fallen Sun is big. Even when it doesn't need to be. Luther stands on top of buildings, smoldering at the London skyline. Why? Because James Bond did it. He has a fistfight in a runaway car. Bond did so, too. There's a massive setpiece involving Piccadilly Circus that feels like a reject from Skyfall.

What's worse is Luther doesn't need all of this. It never did. Inserting such pomposity only highlights how poorly it fits into the grimy, grounded world of Elba's previous exploits. Those will age far better than this film.