Let me start by saying that I enjoyed this, but not without reservation. A few things were disconcerting. I know that the beautiful Idris Elba, who plays DCI John Luther, is British born, but I haven’t heard him speak in anything but The Wire, so however unfairly, an Estuary accent seemed to fit awkwardly, like someone in the wrong shoes. But this is the accent equivalent of jet lag – you get over it. I remember being similarly unnerved when I first heard David Tennant’s real Scottish accent.
I loved the cool opening credits, and the way, like Spooks [also written by Neil Cross], it uses the backdrop of London really well. Although, like Spooks, the settings are perhaps a little too elegant and beautiful. What made The Wire so compelling was the reverse approach- police officers trying to manage in grotty surroundings with barely a functioning manual type-writer between them.
Luther has a skilled and impressive cast, including Saskia Reeves as Luther’s boss, Steven Mackintosh as his friend and colleague, and Paul McGann as Luther’s wife’s new squeeze. I think that’s my other reservation actually. Possibly too many big-hitters that you know from other productions, which is distracting, but may settle down when everyone has bedded in a bit.
I know Elba, for example, has been in other things since The Wire, but his embodiment of the role of the complex, oh-so-bad but effortlessly cool and charismatic, Stringer Bell is so seared on my brain, it is tough to see past it.
So how about the show? It was pretty darn good. I particularly enjoyed Ruth Wilson’s portrayal of Alice, the child prodigy turned psycho murderer, who goes head-to-head in a tense and enjoyable sexual/psychological tussle with Luther.
The idea of a smart but troubled, maverick, morally ambiguous, psychologically-minded detective is not new of course. After Luther had solved the case by realising that the missing murder weapon had been stuffed inside the dead (cremated) family dog, Mr Inkface, watching with me, said “It’s Cracker”, and he’s right, but I’m not sure I mind that too much.
Posted by Inkface