TV Review: “Luther” – Pitch Perfect Crime Drama

Written by Jesse Gelinas May 29, 2012

John Luther is a bit unstable. He is not what you would call a model police officer. Since the questionable apprehension of the child-killer Henry Madsen (resulting in an ongoing coma for the suspect) Luther hasn’t quite been himself. Resigned to a psychiatric ward for seven months to recuperate following the incident, Luther finally returns to his job as a DCI in the Serious Crimes Unit to find himself at odds with his boss (as well as the ethics committee), his wife leaving him for another man, and a horrible new case to work, all centered around the woman who will actually go on to help define Luther as a cop and a man.

The series follows Luther as he works the case on the streets of London. These are the cases his fellow coppers can’t quite see the truth of on their own. Luther has a reputation for ethics violations and for occasionally taking his job outside of his regular jurisdiction.  He gets results. Fans of the BBC’s, “Sherlock”, may find the routine a tad familiar but as a standalone series “Luther” is a cut above.

“You don’t interact with the things we know in the ways that we expect. Your presence can only be inferred by a certain… absence.”

The acting is top notch and Idris Elba gives his best performance since “The Wire” to bring DCI John Luther to life. He is a broken man on the edge of the world waiting for someone to give him a reason to jump. The only thing keeping him on this side of sanity is the job. He has to do it because no one else can. He can be funny, frightening, and incredibly intense all at once. The supporting cast are all grade-A actors, the youngest of whom have obviously bright careers ahead of them. Ruth Wilson’s Alice Morgan stands out among the rest for her cold, calculating sociopath.  Her performance provides another reason to blast through the series in a day!

"One coffee doesn't make us friends."

The stories are fresh and each episode plays like a thriller. When Luther speaks you listen, your eyes glued to the screen. When Alice Morgan speaks, you better listen like your life depends on it. It might. The writers give each character a voice that is unique and stories that are engaging and entertaining. The killers and criminals dealt with in each episode seemingly try to outdo each other in how terrifying they can be, and succfully make your skin crawl. The second season’s villains remain the best I’ve seen on television in recent memory.

The true draw of the show is the fantastic chemistry between Luther and Alice. The unlikely pair are polar opposites and yet have more in common than either cares to admit. Alice brings out the darker side of Luther, while he manages to bring out the tiniest flicker of light in her. Her obsession with him borders on sick love. While she is far from the Watson to his Sherlock, the dynamic is much more complex and makes for some great television.

Luther is a distress call from the modern crime drama. “Help! Please! There’s someone worthwhile still down here!” The show is unrivalled in its genre, and the third season promises to make this brief series an absolute treasure for fans of its ilk.

Instant classic!

My Rating: 10/10


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About Jesse Gelinas

After years attempting to escape the Matrix, Jesse has accepted his fate as a writer and Senior Editor. Now that's he finished with his film degree, it gives him something to do while waiting for the machines to get careless.

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