The students in my film classes often have a problem with the “suspension of disbelief” thing. They are at the age where they know EVERYTHING and are eager to prove just how smart they are by pointing out each and every incongruity that pops up in movies. Age has taught me there are certain battles you just don’t fight, so I let them pick away, throwing away one opportunity after another to be swept away to another world or become immersed in a fantastic story. I’m hoping they’ll grow out of it.
And yet, there are times when I, too, have a problem with this concept, especially when filmmakers don’t explain key factors in their story, hoping they can employ enough razzle dazzle to distract us from the shortcomings of their premise. Such is the case with “Luther: The Fallen Sun,” a feature film based on the BBC television series that wallows in gratuitous violence and outright sadism. And while this is a major flaw in the story’s execution, the bigger problem is the many unanswered questions that pop up, its characters pulling off impossible feats, its villain inexplicably having immeasurable at his command.
London police Detective John Luther (Idris Elba) has been assigned a difficult case. The dead body of a woman missing for six years has been found in a car, a young man murdered nearby. How and why this occurred is just the tip of an implausible scheme that becomes not simply more and more outlandish, but more and more gruesome. However, our hero is quickly taken off the case when evidence of Luther’s past vigilante activities is splashed across the press and he’s put behind bars.
While he’s in the hoosegow, David Robey (Andy Serkis) unleashes a plan in which he forces various people to do nefarious deeds. Seems he has a VAST network of computer hackers who eavesdrop on Londoners via their smart TVs, baby monitors or computers, recording their internet activity and behind-closed-doors intimacies. Surprise! Turns out more than a few folks visit websites or commit acts in the privacy of their own homes they wouldn’t want their neighbors to know about.
Now, having seen none of the “Luther” television series, I thought perhaps the Robey character had appeared on that show and had a backstory. There isn’t, so again I’m left wondering how this guy has James Bond villain resources to pull off a plan that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. And, I know I’m being unreasonable in asking, but why does he have a penchant for hanging 20-somethings and burning their dead bodies in front of their parents or feel the need to compel a large number of people to kill themselves by simultaneously jumping off buildings around Piccadilly Circus? No reason is ever given. I’m just wondering …
This is an incredibly ugly film in tone and intent. I realize violence is the linchpin of so many movies, an instrument wielded by its characters and a hook to get viewers to turn in. However, there’s a tasteful approach in presenting it and then another that appeals to immature teenage boys. Director Jamie Payne embraces the latter with abandon, unleashing one unsettling sight after another, assaulting the viewer with abandon. “Luther: The Fallen Sun” isn’t entertainment — it’s a vicious exercise that eschews logic, opting instead to rub the viewer’s face in the gratuitous violence it wallows in.