I watch a lot of British TV and the one thing I’ve discovered is that their detective shows are better than ours. American procedurals can get incredibly predictable. On cop shows in the United Kingdom, you never know what to expect. Even when you know who the killer is, you still never know what’s going to happen next. If this isn’t a genre you’re familiar with, a great series to start with is Luther starring Idris Elba. It follows Detective Chief Inspector John Luther of the Serious and Serial Crime Unit as he tracks and arrests the worst criminals in London. Luther uses his crippling emotional trauma from years of police work to catch the most awful offenders. That doesn’t sound entertaining, but Elba makes it must-watch TV.
Though it ended its TV run in 2019, Netflix is continuing the story in the movie Luther: The Fallen Sun. If you’re an Idris fan who has somehow missed one of his best performances, this is a great place to jump in. Since British TV seasons aren’t as long as American ones, the show’s five seasons only equal 20 episodes. Luther is currently available on Hulu, Prime Video and The Roku Channel. However, before you push play on Luther: The Fallen Sun, there are a few things you should know about the character and his world.
The Series Saved Idris Elba’s Life
When he originally got the script for the series, Elba was living on his own in the U.S. and was struggling to keep his career momentum going. In the end, it was the idea of not only getting a steady job but also having that job back home, that appealed to the actor.
“I was really honored to be the lead in something like that. I was living in America at the time, and I was keen to come home,” Elba told GQ UK. “I just wanted something else. It was more about life choice than role choice. I wasn’t in a great place; I was in a dark place. It saved my life. It saved my sanity. I was having a midlife crisis but people in the UK were glad to have me back. It was great to shoot on the streets I grew up on, the road I went to school on in Hackney. It was mad to be filming by where I had my first KFC.”
It’s Extremely Dark
DCI John Luther chases the most horrible criminals England has ever seen. This means the episodes can get really dark. Like, way beyond Law & Order: SVU and Criminal Minds dark. While it’s only 20 episodes long, I would not recommend trying to binge this in one sitting. I also suggest you have a palate cleanser of your favorite comedies or YouTube videos standing by since these episodes can get emotionally rough.
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In Luther: The Fallen Sun, Andy Serkis plays David Robey, the tech billionaire/serial killer Luther is after. He uses his considerable wealth to literally get away with murder then rub it in our hero’s face. Though it seems like he enjoys his crimes, Serkis has a different read on the character.
“It’s not even that he enjoys it. Actually, to enjoy would be an amazing thing for David Robey. He doesn’t even get as far as enjoy. He wishes he could enjoy it, but he can’t. He’s so cut off,” Serkis told Collider. “He might give the appearance of enjoying it, but he actually doesn’t even get that satisfaction. That’s the sadness and the tragedy of the character, in a way. What he does have is a sense of theatricality. There’s no question about that. Throughout the movie, it’s almost like he’s arrived. He’s piecing together something that will bring like-minded people together in this safe space, where they can all enjoy the show. That’s what’s so messed up in him. He’s doing something which he thinks is entertainment because he’s so desensitized. When you peel back the onion, that is David Robey.”
There Will Be More Luther
No matter how big his star status gets, Elba asserts that Luther will always be “one of my legacy characters.” Creator/writer Neil Cross also knows that he will never be done with the detective. The movie definitely hints at the possibility of new adventures for the franchise.
“Luther is not going to end until I do. When I die, they’ll probably find an unfinished Luther script,” Cross told GQ UK. “I will always want to write Luther whether anybody wants to make them or not…There are also some roles that just cannot be re-cast and Luther is one of those. Idris has an irreplaceable presence and we’d be fools to even consider it.”
Luther: The Fallen Sun is now streaming on Netflix.