John Luther Malayalam Movie

Feature Film | 2022
Director Abhijit Joseph marks a confident first-time outing with the slick, stylish and wildly entertaining John Luther. The movie may have a slightly generic plot but has exciting action and good performances.
May 27, 2022 By Sreejith Mullappilly

John Luther (Jayasurya) is a cop so busy that he could barely attend his sister's engagement ceremony. Luther is committed to a fault and a borderline workaholic. The first thing he asks the doctor after a head injury and waking up from bed, concerns how soon he can join back in service. Luther's father, played by Siddique, does not like this aspect of his job or the danger involved in it. Director Abhijit Joseph shows just how risky police work can be in the introduction scene for Jayasurya's character itself. When we see Luther for the first time, he is getting treatment for a hand injury. Abhijit does not tell us the reason for Luther's injury. Instead, he just thrusts us into the world of Luther.

This directness in storytelling is evident also in the thriller cum investigative parts of the film. The film opens with a magnificent scene. A bus suddenly stops on a hill station road after a loud sound triggers panic among the passengers. From the sound itself, we smell foul play and realize that there is a dead body at the top of the vehicle. But Roby Varghese Raj has shot the scene so brilliantly that the said detail still comes as a shock to us.

The investigative and thriller aspects of the movie are quite standard, though. John Luther is a slick thriller. There are different victims from different parts of Kerala without a lot to connect them. Luther assumes that these are random killings and the job of one person. Luther follows the trail of breadcrumbs that would lead him to the killer. There is not a lot that stands out in the investigative parts of the film apart from a key writing decision that involves weakening Luther's hearing ability.

An accident leaves Luther partially deaf, and he has to use a hearing aid to communicate and deal with the specifics of the case. The above information is not a spoiler because the trailer shows just as much.The suspense in the film comes from our curiosity to know whether or not Luther will succeed in handling the killer and cracking the case despite his weakness.

Now, making the protagonist a bit weak is an important writing decision that ensures that Luther does not become so indestructible. It means that the killer gets to have at least the same amount of chance to get away with murder as the opportunity that the cop has to nab him. Abhijit does not use it to make us sympathize with the Jayasurya character. Luther is still a cop with enough of what it takes to crack the case.

Then, it is a pity that the writing does not always match up with the ideas or the brilliant atmosphere of the film. A family or sentimental aspect is added to the film without enough conviction. Besides, the makers do not make the most of the weakness of the protagonist. It is not like the villain gets to use Luther's weakness fully. Nevertheless, Abhijit puts the main character in places and situations that induce a sense of claustrophobia and anxiety in the audience.

For a first-time director, Abhijit seems so surefooted and shows a great sense of vision. He uses a couple of technological elements, like a digital recorder, to add an extra dimension to the Luther character and the Luther universe. He also extracts a couple of terrific performances. The background score from Shaan Rahman is propulsive and plays a big part in keeping us hooked to the proceedings.

I am amazed by Siddique's ability to get a beautiful thread of a character with even the smallest of details. It is just superb how he goes from being a grumpy father to a broken, emotional father in a hospital. On the other hand, Jayasurya marries physicality and agility with just enough intensity and dramatic heft. This wonderful actor is almost at the top of his game here.

Sreejith Mullappilly