WHAT IT'S ABOUT:
As a teenager, Assane Diop's life was turned upside down when his father died after being accused of a crime he didn’t commit. 25 years later, Assane will use "Arsène Lupin, Gentleman Burglar" as his inspiration to avenge his father.
WHAT WE THOUGHT:
There’s always something a little spellbinding about the smoke-and-mirrors of a classic heist story. Just as you think you’ve got the mechanics of the theft figured out, or the double-cross seems like the end of our charming scoundrel/s, they pull out another ace up the sleeve that helps them get away with it all. For our charming protagonist of French Netflix series Lupin, this thrill of the con is worth more than the dubiously obtained riches.
Inspired by the fictional gentlemen thief and master of disguise Arsène Lupin, Assane Diop has dedicated his life to deception and theft from people that look down on others below their class. While trying to be a better father to his son, an opportunity arises to avenge the death of his own father, once accused by a wealthy family of a crime he did not commit.
Assane could be considered the anti-Sherlock Holmes, using his talents to rather outwit the law than help it. However, much like his fictional hero, he targets the more villainous members of society, and the execution of his plots are near-perfect works of art. While these types of films and TV shows where nothing is as it seems have lost a certain lustre as audiences are quicker to see the twists coming, Lupin keeps you engaged for its more dramatic and comedic storytelling.
There’s also a certain finesse to Assane’s work similar to Holmes’ timeless appeal, bolstered by the great performance from Omar Sy, most well-known for his role in the award-winning The Intouchables. His smile can melt any cold, dead heart and convincingly cycles through various personas to pull off his duplicity. Assane doesn’t always win, however, and when he loses he loses big. This is when Sy shows his character’s vulnerability that’s hidden underneath the cool, stylish veneer he has taken a lifetime to cultivate.
The addition of his son and ex-wife in the story humanises him - without them, he would maybe have been just a little too cool and unrelatable to the audience.
While you might see many of the twists coming and there are few holes that are left unplugged, the grand execution of Assane’s capers remains an enjoyable ride for those who love the ride. They’re not too over the top and exudes a subtle French flair that’s quite different from the flashy Hollywood style of similar productions like Ocean’s 8, The Italian Job and Now You See Me. A simple text message here, a bright orange beanie there and easy-to-execute distractions that don’t require a whole squad of people - the simplicity of the schemes is the series’ biggest drawcard.
There’s also a secondary story - that of the cops on his trail as they try to find a link between the various cases. What is a thief without his cop-nemesis, and the series spends a little time developing that with one of the police officers. He figures out the thief’s game a little quicker, despite being dismissed by his peers and missing some of the pieces. It ups the stakes for the audience without the knowledge of its protagonist, and generates build-up for their inevitable confrontation and climax.
In only six episodes, Lupin will hook you in and leave you wanting more with a major, Sherlock-esque cliffhanger, the story nowhere near completion just yet as part two is expected to drop later this year. If you like a good heist story, and don’t mind the subtitles, this French series is a good investment of your time for future seasons of double-crosses, justice executed and gentlemanly trickery.
WATCH THE TRAILER HERE: