Netflix’s Lupin Review: An endlessly entertaining reentry for the gentleman thief
Netflix brings the concept of the suave and witty gentlemen thief into the modern age with its new international espionage thriller series, Lupin, delivering non-stop charm and intrigue.
While maybe not as recognizable in pop culture as Sherlock Holmes, legendary French gentleman thief Arsene Lupin, created by French writer Maurice Leblanc, is certainly just as influential. Not only has Lupin’s influence been seen in video games like Persona 5 and the manga series Lupin the Third, but there was even a time that Lupin had a run-in with Holmes – something I’d love to see play out on the big screen. Now with Netflix’s take on Lupin, we have series that’s fully inspired by the calculated wit and charm of Lupin as we see a man named Assane Diop (Omar Sy) utilize the approach and style of Arsene Lupin in order to avenge his deceased father.
The series hits all the right notes in its first episode with its strong introduction to Assane’s troubled upbringing and sly thrills that evokes all the great qualities of a gentleman thief. It builds this story of a seemingly normal and unremarkable man into this epic introduction of a masterful multi-talented thief. At first, it seems that Assane is just creating this heist of a prized necklace once worn by Marie Antoinette to repay a debt of this and expected planning and double-crosses play out like you’d expect. It’s perfectly enjoyable to watch, but nothing too out of the ordinary for a great heist series. However, they the rug gets pulled out from under you and Assane takes control in such a suave and charismatic way that you’re left impressed by his incredible prowess. It’s like that “one last thing” moment of an Ocean’s film that makes you smirk with delight at how certain pieces have been moving different than you initially perceived and a big curtain is being pulled back at the real innerworkings of what you’ve just seen.
Even better is the necklace’s personal tie to Assane’s father as it kicks off a very engaging mystery filled with corruption and wrongdoings. The editing is a pivotal part of the storytelling with how it cuts back and forth between the past and the present to connect the false accusations against his father’s supposed thievery to Assane’s vigilante actions to uncover the truth. It moves between past and present incredibly well to weave together this compelling narrative about truth-seeking and it’s what sets Lupin apart from being just another heist story. Assane’s personal story being the main driving force works greatly in injecting some delightful heart into the story and keeps things engaging with how the truth is slowly revealed with each episode. It’s even great how Leblanc’s stories of Lupin’s adventures play a strong role in Assane’s scheming and acts as a personal connection to his father. Hell, it’s just a blast to watch a struggling officer named Guedira (Soufiane Guerrab) try to convince those around him that this connection to Arsene Lupin is real and connect the dots while other detectives scramble to figure things out.
Sy is one who really steals the show though with his incredible performance that embodies the intellect, adaptiveness, and charm of a gentleman thief. With a great script to work with, one that brings thieving into the modern tech era with Assane using deepfakes and hacking virtual home assistants, and a great screen presence, Sy proves himself to be a top leading man and create a nuanced portrayal of the gentlemen thief. The sense of determination he provides in Assane going to various lengths and unexpected places for the truth is great and his charm is just irresistible and the real heart of this series. A great heist wouldn’t be the same without a suave and charismatic thief in the center of it all and this series wouldn’t be the same with Sy.
Lupin is that hidden gem just waiting to be watched in your Netflix queue as it provides a personal and endlessly entertaining story of thievery with Sy giving a new name to the gentlemen thief and paying homage to the legacy of Arsene Lupin in an incredibly fresh way.
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