Skip to main content

Can John Luther kick James Bond’s ass? The Fallen Sun’s creators weigh in on the debate

One of the most popular British shows to emerge in the last 15 years is Luther. Starring Idris Elba as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther, the BBC One series lasted five seasons, was a critical and commercial success, and made an international star out of Elba, who frequently tops hypothetical lists of actors who would make a great James Bond. After a three-year absence, Elba returns to the role that made him famous with Luther: The Fallen Sun, a feature-length Netflix film co-starring future Wicked actress Cynthia Erivo and Andor‘s Andy Serkis.

Digital Trends got the chance to talk to Luther’s creator and writer, Neil Cross, and director Jamie Payne about how Luther has evolved throughout the years and what the future holds for the police detective. They also weigh in on the most pressing debate of 2023: can John Luther kick James Bond’s ass in a fight?

A man stands in an alley in Luther: The Fallen Sun.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Digital Trends: Neil, you are the father of Luther. How does this movie represent the character’s evolution from when we first saw him in the first season of Luther more than a decade ago in 2010?

Neil Cross:  I’ve thought about this a lot. I’m not one of those writers who puts deliberate arcs into a story because I’m not a real writer. I just make things up as I go along. So I look at it after I’ve done it. To me, the arc of the television show is the arc of a man who is forced by circumstances to look into and accept his own true nature. And the minute he accepts his own true nature, he can no longer be a police officer. That’s the end of the TV show. Luther: The Fallen Sun represents the same man having to accept who he now knows he is.

Jamie, you’re relatively new to the Luther franchise, correct?

Jamie Payne: Yeah. I directed season 5 and now this film.

How did you approach portraying this character in a feature-length format?

Payne: Well, when I directed season 5, I had four previous seasons to reference for clues as to who Luther was. There was also a novel, Luther: The Calling, that taught me a lot about who he was ahead of this film.

For me, it’s the story that comes first. There is no point in my process where there’s not something on the page. As a director, whether I’m doing episodic television or a feature film, I’m creatively responding to the writing. That’s the first part of the process.

My genuine passion for Luther as a character, my friendship with Neil and Idris, and the responsibility that I feel to the world they created together enabled me to use every single skill that I developed over 20 years of directing a wide variety of television programs to make sure that I was making the best movie possible.

A man stands in a subway tunnel in Luther: The Fallen Sun.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Without spoiling anything, is this the last we’ll see of Luther? Do you both have anything planned. like another series or movie with Idris coming back? Or is The Fallen Sun the final chapter in the Luther saga?

Cross: I will be writing Luther until someone puts me in a straitjacket and drags me away and locks me away.

Payne: Even then, he won’t stop writing Luther stories. [Laughs]

There’s been some talk in the news about a scene in The Fallen Sun that gives, and I quote, “an extended middle finger to James Bond.” I have to ask: if Luther had to fight James Bond, who would win?

Cross: I’ve never been asked that question!

We can go through all the different Bonds too. For example, if it’s Sean Connery’s Bond versus Idris Elba’s Luther, who wins?

Payne: Wow, this is fun.

Cross: Well, I have to say that what Luther has in his favor against all of the iterations of Bond is that he’s always doing it for himself. Bond is ultimately doing it for the government. And I think Luther’s drive and passion are what ultimately give him the edge. Although if it’s Luther versus Sean Connery, I don’t actually know what the answer to that is, but I do know that I would quite like to watch it. That’s something that I would love to see.

Luther: The Fallen Sun | Official Trailer | Netflix

I thought about this a lot recently. For me, Luther versus Connery’s Bond is a draw. Luther vs. Roger Moore? Luther wins. Luther versus Timothy Dalton? Luther wins. Luther versus Pierce Brosnan? Luther wins, but it’s a tough fight. Luther versus Daniel Craig? Craig wins because he will cheat and lie and fight dirty to beat Luther.

Cross: [Laughs] You know what? I grew up wanting to do stop-motion and you inspired me to go back and do some stop-motion movies just so that I can see Luther battle each of the Bonds.

Payne: I’d like to see Luther versus all the Bonds at the same time.

It’s 2023. We have the technology to make all that happen.

Luther: The Fallen Sun is now streaming on Netflix.

Editors' Recommendations

Jason Struss
Section Editor, Entertainment
Jason is a writer, editor, and pop culture enthusiast whose love for cinema, television, and cheap comic books has led him to…
3 PBS shows you should watch in June 2024
The cast of Grantchester.

One of the secrets of PBS' success is that many of its best shows actually originate from the United Kingdom. In fact, all three of our picks for the three PBS shows that you should watch in June 2024 are British originals. Grantchester and D.I. Ray are both mystery dramas, while the documentary about disco is produced by BBC and making its American debut this month.

These are just a few of the new shows on PBS in June. There's a lot to watch, especially if you want to go back and revisit the great PBS shows to watch in May as well. Remember, PBS is free. All you have to do is make time for it.

Read more
Don’t let these 3 June 2024 hidden streaming movie gems fly under your radar
The cast of The Wedding Banquet laying on the grass and smiling for the camera.

June brings new movies on Netflix, Amazon, Max, and pretty much every other major streaming service. Pride Month is also the perfect time to uplift and showcase new voices, and that includes venturing outside one's entertainment comfort zone and exploring new and underappreciated movies.

These underrated films are ideal for this momentous month. From undervalued and underseen gems of LGBTQ+ cinema to films that flew under the radar on their original release, these cinematic projects deserve more love from audiences. So celebrate Pride Month by giving them a chance -- ideally, you'll discover something new, not to mention you'll get to enjoy a film you might've not been aware of before.
My Beautiful Laundrette (1985)

Read more
I hated, hated, hated this 2023 movie that everyone else loved. Here’s why
5 football players sit at a table in Bottoms.

It's not a stretch to say that 2023 was a pretty great year for movies. Between successes like Oppenheimer and Barbie, acclaimed darlings like Poor Things and Anatomy of a Fall, and unexpected hits like Godzilla Minus One and Anyone but You, the film industry thrived last year. However, as usually happens, more than a few films earned far more acclaim than they should have, at least in this writer's opinion. I've written already about my dislike for Emerald Fennell's Saltburn, but that was a divisive film that had far more detractors than just me. On the contrary, Emma Seligman's teen comedy Bottoms received near-universal acclaim, and I can't, for the life of me, understand why.

Bottoms isn't necessarily bad, strictly speaking; it's not a true abomination like, say, Ghosted or The Flash. However, it's also not the teen triumph it was anointed to be by most critics and the internet. Instead, it's a rather average movie that is not nearly as subversive or clever as it pretends to be. In fact, compared to other entries in the raunchy teen genre, it's painfully mediocre, and the more praise it got, the more I disliked it. And while "hate" might be a strong word, especially when talking about a movie, it's a pretty succinct, if slightly exaggerated, way to describe my feelings towards Bottoms.
What is it exactly that we're looking at here?

Read more