Previously on Luther
Considering Idris Elba is a bonafide movie star with award-winning roles and a successful music career, it wouldn’t be surprising if he never returned to the TV role which made him a household name for many (who hadn’t watched The Wire, that is): John Luther.
Yet one need only watch a few minutes of any episode of Luther to understand why he does return to the crime drama with complex heroes and frightening villains – and we’re all extremely grateful that he has.
The 2-hour and 45-minute movie finds Luther on a leave of absence from the force, fresh off the loss of his partner (DS Justin Ripley) and lover (Mary Day). He doesn’t stay out of the game for long when DCI Theo Bloom (Darren Boyd) and DS Emma Lane (Rose Leslie) bring news of Alice Morgan’s death. Though Luther claims to have had no dealings with Alice since he last saw her on the bridge at the end of season three, he starts digging into what she was up to and how it led to her drowning in a river after getting into a car accident, killing one man in the car, and injuring another.
Luther follows the trail of the survivor to George Cornelius, a high-end thief who admits to setting up a meeting with Alice to buy some stolen diamonds, but he tried to rob her instead, hence the dead guy and car crash, but he insists he didn’t kill her.
Meanwhile, Bloom and Lane hunt a serial killer who stalks and then eats his victims, leaving clues to his next victim at the crime scenes. Luther has no choice but to return to his old job when the team loses an investigator to the cannibal killer.
Throw in a psychic who claims to have a message from a dead Alice, a missing burner phone, and a case from Luther’s past, and you have a very satisfying return – mainly because creator/writer Neil Cross didn’t waste a moment of the near 3 hours he was given.
I’d almost forgotten how well this show does tension, the kind where you know something awful is about to happen, yet you can’t look away. Leslie was a solid addition to the universe. She plays Lane as smart, gutsy, and wanting to do the right thing. In that way, the character reminds me very much of Ripley (sob).
As Ruth Wilson is currently killing it on Showtime’s, ‘The Affair,’ it’s understandable why she wasn’t able to return, not to mention that Luther’s relationship with Alice wasn’t one that could be long term. By the movie’s end, Luther has found another complicated, capable, and deadly woman to engage in a bit of cat-and-mouse.
Elba slides back into this role easily, still abrasive and living on the edge (literally, this time), but unable to hide that side of him which cares a bit too much.
If we can’t get another 3-4 episode season of Luther, I’d settle for 3-hour movies every other year, especially if they’re this well done.