Wednesday, 12 June 2024

‘Luther’ succeeds on its own; TCM finishing its schedule


Idris Elba is a terrific actor, and anything on television or the movies in which he’s got a key role is almost always worth watching. Case in point would be his British detective in the TV series “Luther.”

I still feel strongly that he would make a great James Bond. Some say he may be getting too old, but he’s eight years younger than Keanu Reeves, who’s proving in the “John Wick” series that age is not determinative for action chops.

After five seasons as a series, now comes the feature film “Luther: The Fallen Sun” on Netflix, with Idris Elba in the role of DCI John Luther, now disgraced for having committed illegal acts as a London police officer.

“Luther: The Fallen Sun,” a psychological crime thriller, is a continuation of the TV series, albeit with some new characters, most notably with Andy Serkis, brilliantly creepy as wealthy serial killer David Robey.

Luther inhabits a world so dark and grim that in his pursuit of the scum of the earth he often bends or breaks the rules. This proves to be his Achilles heals when he’s assigned the kidnap case of young janitor Callum Aldrich (James Bamford).

As the kidnapper, Robey is a psychopath who collects individuals against their will that he either manipulates into self-destructive acts or imprisons at a remote mansion where they are tortured and brutally murdered.

Knowing that Luther has been assigned the case of Callum’s disappearance, Robey orchestrates the detective into being fired and jailed for breaking the law, but not before Luther promises Callum’s mother Corinne (Hattie Morahan) to find her son’s killer.

Once in prison, Luther is taunted by Robey delivering recordings of the murder of Callum. Now a pariah with the police force, Luther is unable to persuade DCI Odette Raine (Cynthia Erivo), now heading the investigation, that he could lend a hand.

Helped by a former associate and an inmate riot, Luther escapes prison, because he’ll let nothing stand in the way of taking down Robey, even if DCI Raine hunts down Luther with as much zeal as chasing the serial killer.

Making the deranged Robey even more despicable is that he operates the dark website “Red Bunker” for sick voyeurs who are drawn to the gore and brutality of watching murder online.

Steeped in violent action and psychological warfare, “Luther: The Fallen Sun” works for the most part as a standalone film. Idris Elba’s Luther is charismatic, and the other key players are equally good. Andy Serkis’ Robey is beyond chilling as the villain.

Apparently, Idris Elba has taken himself out of contention to be the next Agent 007. That’s our loss. But if he cranks out a franchise of “Luther” movies, this will be our compensation, an obvious win for dedicated fans.


The TCM Classic Film Festival’s starting date of April 13 is fast approaching, and the scheduling of films for the four-day extravaganza looks to be fairly complete with only a few open slots.

Exclusively for passholders, Club TCM is a private locale in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel where movie fans have the opportunity to attend special presentations and events with many of the celebrity guests.

Given the celebration on hand for Warner Bros. 100th anniversary, the “Warner Bros.: Hollywood’s Ultimate Backlot – A Trip Through the Iron Gates” will provide an insider’s look at the soundstages and outdoor sets where the studio produced its most famous films.

Presenters of this special event include the studio’s archivist and author Steven Bingen and filmmaker and author Cass Warner, the granddaughter of the studio’s co-founder and original president, Harry Warner. They will discuss anecdotes about filmmaking on the Warner Bros. lot.

Who doesn’t love movie trailers? “You Gotta Have a Gimmick: The Warner Bros. Trailers Show” will celebrate the studio’s advertising wizards who packed theaters with clever early glimpses of some favorite films.

Passholders at Club TCM will join Randy Haberkamp of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to experience “42nd Street” (1933), “Mildred Pierce” (1945), “House of Wax” (1953), “Bonnie and Clyde” (1967), and more as you’ve never seen them before.

Open to all in a theater will be “Bless This Mess: Laurel & Hardy Shorts,” a program of Stan and Ollie’s cherished short comedies. In “Going Bye-Bye!” (1934), the pair testify against a dangerous criminal, who breaks out of prison to seek revenge but becomes a victim of hijinks.

“Them Thar Hills” (1934) find Laurel and Hardy going to the mountains for a rest and accidentally get high on moonshine dumped into a well by locals trying to evade the law.

In “Tit for Tat” (1935), an Oscar nominee for Best Comedy Short, the duo known for their slapstick comedy run into trouble when opening an electrical repair shop next to a grocery run by their old nemesis from “Them Thar Hills.”

Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.

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