MOVIE: **** (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: **** (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
With the series “Luther,” the BBC proves that Americans do not hold the patent on excellent cop shows. The series has its second season available on DVD right now, and it’s proving to be one of the most daring police procedurals I’ve seen.
Idris Elba stars as John Luther, a London cop haunted by the murder of his wife and the betrayal of his partner. The only way to cope is to dive into the grisly cases facing his city. In the new Serious and Serial unit of the London police force, Luther builds a team to take a new look at major crimes. However, certain links to organized crime and his own conscience prove to be a problem for Luther as he tries to help people while interfering with the system.
Season two features the equivalent of two television movies, each running just short of two hours. They are presented as four episodes, similar to how “Sherlock” features just a couple long-form mysteries for a single season. In “Luther,” the crimes are chilling, and the adversaries are potent. In the first two-parter, Luther faces a theatrical serial killer who hides behind a mask. In the second two-parter, he faces some gamers who take their dice rolls to a murderous level.
Elba plays Luther softly, not going over the top or being too extreme. He’s a conflicted character, and there’s always something working in his head. Like other brilliant characters, he’s one step ahead of most people but always playing catch-up.
The crimes in these episodes are hard core, not necessarily what you’d see on American television. The killers are brutal and dangerous, but entirely plausible, and that’s what makes them so delicious… but uncomfortable at the same time.
Finally, the secondary story for the season is Luther’s attempt to save a girl from sexual slavery. While this tends to be too much of a diversion at times, it balances out the hard crime in the series and shows a little more humanity for Luther’s character.
“Luther” is going to sail completely under the radar of most Americans, but if you’re a fan of the police procedural, it’s definitely worth checking out.
The DVD comes with two discs covering the four episodes. No special features are included.