DVD Review: Idris Elba Makes ‘Luther 2’ a Must-Watch BBC Mini-Series

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CHICAGO – Idris Elba is stunning in BBC’s excellent mini-series “Luther,” recently released in a 2-disc set on DVD-only (which is a shame since every program this strong deserves a Blu-ray release). He does work as strong here as anything he’s ever done in his career, including his highly-acclaimed work on HBO’s “The Wire.” After being nominated for an Emmy for the first season, one can assume he’ll get another for his even-superior work in the second series.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 4.0/5.0
DVD Rating: 4.0/5.0

The front-of-box slogan of “Luther 2” says “What if your worst enemy was your own conscience?” This dark show is about how crime-solvers can be forever impacted by the crimes they solve. John Luther is in such dire mental straights that the mini-series opens with what seems like a casual morning routine — playing Russian Roulette. Luther has been damaged, warped by the crimes he’s been forced to solve. If you’ve ever wondered how our detectives on shows like “Criminal Minds” and “C.S.I.” could possibly sleep at night with all the evil they’ve seen the answer is that they couldn’t. The writers of “Luther” have created a character willing to walk through Hell to keep innocence safe, even if he loses his own in the process.

This season plays not unlike two feature films in that the four episodes feature two plot arcs. The first episode begins a tale of a twisted serial killer who seems to be taunting Luther and the police. He smiles at security cameras. He lingers near the scene of the crime. He seems to want to be caught. Meanwhile, Luther is approached by an old friend who needs help with a girl who has been forced (or has she?) into producing disturbing porno films.

Luther 2 was released on DVD on October 25th, 2011
Luther 2 was released on DVD on October 25th, 2011
Photo credit: BBC

Elba was nominated for an Emmy for the first season and he’s even better here. This is one of the best performances on any channel in 2011. It’s riveting stuff. He’s giving one of those performances in which he not only makes the right choices, he makes ones that lesser actors wouldn’t even consider. He’s mesmerizing. The rest of the piece isn’t up to his work — some of the dialogue is a bit cliched and many of the secondary characters feel like plot devices — but Elba makes it all worth your time.

Sadly, BBC didn’t think you’d have any time leftover for special features and don’t include a one on the DVD. That’s shameful in an era of increasingly-interesting bonus material. Maybe for “Luther 3.”

The dark psychological drama starring Emmy nominee Idris Elba (The Wire, American Gangster) as John Luther, the near-genius detective struggling with his own demons, returns with two distinctive, thrilling crime stories. Devastated by the brutal murder of his wife, Luther returns to policing in a different world. His old unit has gone and he’s working in the newly created Serious and Serial unit, headed by former police complaints officer Martin Schenk. Luther quickly gathers together his team, rescuing his old partner Detective Justin Ripley from uniform. It’s not long before they’re dealing with their first case. A masked man wanders the streets of London, carrying out ritualistic murders in historic locations, working his way up to one final masterpiece… Crackling with energy and beautifully shot this series sees Luther take bigger risks and face even darker challenges.

“Luther” stars Idris Elba, Ruth Wilson, Dermot Crowley, Warren Brown, Nikki Amuka-Bird, Paul McGann, Pam Ferris, and Kierston Wareing. It was released on DVD on October 25th, 2011.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

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