Where I Watched It: Netflix
English Audio Description Provided By: Descriptive Video Works
I never actually watched the TV series, so I was wondering if that would put a damper on my absolute to understand the film. Would this be a film made specifically for Luther fans? Do I have to binge watch the whole damn series? Luckily, no.
While I’m sure the experience is more rewarding, watching this is a bit like watching Death On The Nile, but not Murder on The Orient Express. If you’re just aware that there is a detective named Poirot, then you can embrace the contained mystery that detective has to solve. Here, Luther has that same thing, just with the hint of more backstory.
At the top of the movie, Luther is sent to jail, and our mysterious villain is revealed. A bold choice for a film. Within the first ten minutes, it is clear that Andy Serkis is up to no good, and the film never pretends he’s not. He’s an embraced villain from the very beginning, instead of this being a mystery where they don’t know anything, and the audience knows nothing. Serkis gives a great performance because his character is front and center the entire film. He’s like a much more sadistic and violent Moriarty. It’s like Seven, but if the killer turned himself in at the beginning.
So, Elba’s Luther has to figure out how to solve a crime from jail, and he tries to gain the help of Cynthia Erivo’s cop, but she doesn’t really want to deal with someone with such a tarnished reputation, making his life even harder. The fact that this killer seems to be taunting Luther, while he’s in a place he can’t get out of makes this a more interesting, and more challenging endeavor. And, this film earns its R rating. He doesn’t just quietly kill people. The comparisons to Seven are pretty accurate, along with a touch of Saw.
There was a crappy cop thriller, Untraceable, which had a very similar plot to this. This is better, but due in most part to Serkis going for broke. Elba is fine as Luther, but surprisingly restrained for a guy who spent some time behind bars. Erivo is good here, basically just being asked to play a strong female partner for Elba. But Serkis gets the big showy scenes, he gets to deliver the off the wall performance, and his level of unhinged is what makes the film work so well. He’s very much like the Joker in that he wants to see the world burn just to see it burn.
The audio description didn’t lean in too much on gore, but described several scenes that were likely fairly disturbing without any graphic detail. A lot of people die in this, and there are a lot of dead bodies. Not that you actually meet everyone who dies, but there just are a lot of dead people. Haley Joel Osment would be seeing more than his average amount of dead people per day.
In the end, I respect this film. I’m not sure it did a lot to make me want more Luther. It’s a rare film when your villain is so well fleshed out, that he seems to surpass the hero somehow. Comic book movies need to watch this and start structuring their films a bit more like this. It’s far more effective when you know more about the villain, than just having some space filler boring asshole with the same motive as every other comic book villain.
It didn’t make me want to watch the show, since the strongest point for me here is Serkis, who I feel is exclusive to this film and not the show, and I don’t know how much I’d like the show without his electric performance. Luther joins a long line of detectives before him, and he needed to make a big imprint, and I think the producers relied a bit too much on the TV show for his development, so he wasn’t as balanced in this cat and mouse.
Final Grade: B