Elevated by an incredible performance by Idris Elba, Luther is an emotionally charged, unconventional crime thriller. There are times where Luther feels rudimentary; the multiple cases are usually solved by Luther’s eccentricity and ingenuity. Ultimately though, its the realistic blend of John Luther’s personal drama and the high stake crime cases that make this such an absorbing drama. Although the first season does end on a bit of a cliffhanger, there’s enough here in this gripping, well acted crime thriller to enjoy.
The story begins with John Luther (Idris Elba) chasing a suspect at the end of a long, exhausting case. With his ex wife seeing someone else and a mentally unstable woman hell bent on manipulating Luther’s life, the rest of the episodes feel like a time bomb as Luther struggles to overcome his personal problems whilst leading an investigative team through dangerous and high stake cases. Although there are slight hints of mystery at play here, Luther brushes this aside with a more intent focus on the thriller side of crime and catching the bad guy. This focus injects Luther with an urgency that make the episodes so absorbing and gripping. There’s never a dull moment in this series and even the more intimate, slower paced scenes have an air of uneasiness to them thanks to Luther’s mental instability.
The blend of individual crimes and overarching character driven narrative works really well here and a lot of this is thanks to the fantastic acting that grace every episode. Although Elba is the focal point with his flawless acting and sharp bites of dialogue, the supporting cast and guest stars are equally impressive. The care put into making the scripts as realistic as possible really help with Luther’s believability and buying into the character motivations.
Those with a weak stomach should be warned that Luther involves some pretty distressing imagery. Blood, severed body parts, mental disorders and more all feature prominently through the series and although its surprising for a BBC drama to depict this sort of graphic violence, it’s used appropriately and not just for shock value. There’s an array of interesting and artistic camera angles used throughout too. Close up, quick cuts during some of the more tense moments in the series contrast the long, tracking shots that show Luther walking down corridors or contemplating his next move. This variety further illustrates the uniqueness inherent with the show and helps it stand out from other crime thrillers out there.
Luther is simply a great crime drama. The unconventional, eccentric feel to the show is typified through Idris Elba’s breathtaking performance as the unhinged John Luther whom the show gravitates around. The combination of great acting, interesting cases and good pacing make Luther stand out from other shows in this genre. The climactic finale and relentless tension that suffocates Luther makes it an incredibly absorbing thriller and one that’s well worth watching.