'Luther - The Complete Series'
(Idris Elba, Wunmi Mosaku, Ruth Wilson, et al / 6-Disc DVD / NR / 2019 / BBC Home Entertainment)
Overview: Buckle your seatbelt for the turbulent career of London's DCI John Luther, starring Idris Elba, winner of Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards for his powerful performance in this grippingly smart psychological thriller, 'Luther'
DVD Verdict: As brilliant as he is impulsive, Luther wrestles with the darker side of humanity and with his own grim ghosts.
Will his arch enemy - a beautiful and equally brilliant mass murderer (Ruth Wilson, Mrs. Wilson, Jane Eyre) - win their lethal battle of wits?
Or will Luther's visceral sense of moral order finally free him from his personal and professional demons?
Personally, I've always liked Idris Elba. Maybe it's because of The Wire or maybe because his screen presence is so compelling, but when our TVs schedules are filled with so much dross to have this little gem of a series appear is so refreshing.
Luther (Idris Elba) is a Detective Inspector in a Special Crimes Unit who has just returned to work after having recently recovered from a mental breakdown due to pressures of a marriage break up and over commitment to his job.
His relationships with his ex-wife, his new colleague DS Ripley and a psychopathic but brilliant young lady are central to the development of the series.
Each episode leaves one wanting to know how the plot will develop. There are of course the crimes to be solved and Luther's unorthodox but canny methods.
I will not divulge any more but the climatic ending to episode 6 in the first season makes one want to know What now? which I've always found a wondrous bridge into a following season.
What's remarkable about 'Luther' is how series creator Neil Cross takes a rag-tag bag of clichés - brilliant but damaged rogue cop, long-suffering boss, genius killer, etc. - and makes it all seem so fresh.
Of course, having the fantastic Idris Elba helps immeasurably. He doesn't just act the part of Luther; he is Luther, fully inhabiting the role and moving like a force of nature through every scene.
This is one of those rare times where you see an actor's innate intelligence and physicality used perfectly. Watching Luther decompensate, as he does at various times over the story arc, is really something to see.
Elba is matched every step of the way by Ruth Wilson (Alice), playing a sort of female Hannibal Lector - brilliant, amoral, remorseless, scary, and, I daresay, sexy.
One of the more interesting back stories is indeed the role of Alice Morgan, a young multiple murderess (played brilliantly by Ruth Wilson) who gives Luther chilling insight into the minds of his suspects while challenging him on sexual, intellectual and moral levels, intent on drawing him further inwards to the heart of her passion.
Sure John can see this, as it both frightens and attracts him leaving the audience on a constant cliff-edge awaiting his fate. She and Elba make quite a pair, and their interplay is priceless throughout the now-five seasons.
Indeed, 'Luther' reminds me of the Jim Carrey movie 'The Number 23' and how obsession can destroy and destroy utterly taking everything and everyone with it.
The show's direction takes the viewer helter skelter into the very heart and soul of John Luther, a dedicated senior police officer in a constant struggle to retain his moral compass.
All because he dares to use questionable methods to ensure justice for victims of the most brutal crimes within a labyrinthine bureaucracy of a legal system whose very existence seems intent in ensuring the path towards a successful arrest and conviction is as difficult as possible.
Idris Elba is, again, BRILLIANT at portraying this wrought, fallible but noble detective John Luther, which reflects once again how far Elba's acting range can reach post The Wire.
The audio track is charged, insightful and electric, employing talents such as Emiliana Torrini and her gritty cut 'Gun'.
As for the inclusion of this fifth, and if this box-set it to be believed, final season, as a series of monstrous killings becomes more audacious, Luther and new recruit DS Catherine Halliday (Wunmi Mosaku) are confounded by a tangle of misdirection that seems to protect an unspeakable horror.
But as the case brings him closer than ever to the nature of true evil, a reluctant Luther faces the ghosts of his own past.
Striding back into the line of fire, he must choose who to protect, and who to sacrifice. Whatever his next move, it will change John Luther forever.
For my money, from the very first season to this fifth one, 'Luther' is a genuine masterclass in how a crime series should be done. From the acting to the cinematics and dialogue you are drawn straight into Idris Elba's edgy spontaneous character, whilst all the while the rest of the cast blend accordingly and seamlessly around him.
Of course, 'Luther' is all just one big fantasy from start to finish with situations and characters that are outrageously far fetched, but nonetheless, this fifth series is as on point and as controlled as any of the prior four, that's for damn sure.
This fifth season is definitely engrossing, polished stuff with each episode a self-contained one and yet still weaving seamlessly into each other for the final reckoning (and a much broader storyline, of course).
Oh, and not to give too much away, although I'm sure all you Lutheran's out there already know this, there are some What happened to? moments spread unevenly throughout not only this fifth, but the other seasons.
Such as Whatever happened to Rose? To Jenny? To Mary? To Erin? To Mark? They all just disappeared. Zoe, killed off. Alice, supposedly killed (then and now!) but do we really know that for sure? Justin, killed.
I mean, to my mind every supporting character has now gone and, at times, it can really take away from the show when all your gotten-to-know-and-like supporting favorites die (or just vanish).
I mean, I understand some characters die or leave to forward the story line, but most all of them? Oh, and after this moment of self indulgence here, watch out for the latest one to bite the dust as we head to the end of this magnificent fifth (and regardless of the box-set "complete series" statement, hopefully not final) season!
In closing, once you suspend belief and treat it for what it is, 'Luther' is right royal rollicking entertainment! The villains are truly frightening, Ruth Wilson is mesmerizing, the bad guy in episode four of the second season really gave me the creeps, and with great acting all round, there is nothing on TV quite like it - perhaps save for 'Line Of Duty', of course. I strongly recommend 'Luther' for everyone who appreciates quality TV drama. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
Luther: The World of A True Maverick
Cast and Crew Interviews
Luther 4: Up Close To The Edge
Lust For Luther