Lupin review: Omar Sy excels as a 'gentleman thief' in this addictive Netflix series
Lupin presents a character that is a blend of Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, and Daniel Ocean
There is much appeal in a fictitious protagonist armed with a secret identity. Better still is a protagonist capable of being invincible and vulnerable at the same time. Netflix's latest attraction, Lupin, presents such a man — a blend of Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood, and Daniel Ocean.
Assane Diop, the main character, is not a contemporary version of Arsene Lupin — the famed French literary character from the 1900s — but rather a man who grew up idolising him. In being an inspiration for Assane Diop (Omar Sy), Arsene Lupin is like a symbol — much like Batman to Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character in The Dark Knight Rises. In taking this approach, the creators of Lupin don't run the risk of upsetting Lupin purists and are free to cast anyone they want and take the character places that don't always reflect those in the book.
Directors: Marcela Said, Ludovic Bernard, Louis Leterrier
Cast: Omar Sy, Ludivine Sagnier, Soufiane Guerrab
Streaming on: Netflix
But Lupin should be a delight for fans of this 'gentleman thief'. I bought the Arsene Lupin collection recently and familiarised myself with the first few adventures in the book. I'm glad to report that the makers have succeeded in being fair to the spirit of Maurice LeBlanc's venerable creation. Like Lupin, Assane Diop is a true gentleman. Each episode in Lupin is, to an extent, a contemporary version of the events in the book. To give you an example: The first episode deals with a heist; in the second, Lupin goes to prison, but not in a way one expects. And each episode of this five-episode first season culminates in a twist or cliffhanger. But the entire season has a self-contained story propelled by a dark, very personal tragedy in Assane Diop's life, in which racial elements also come into play.
Without venturing on spoiler territory, it would be safe to say that Diop wants revenge and goes about orchestrating his plan. His target is an influential industrialist who may be more formidable than one can imagine. How would a man like Diop, who can hack into any system, break into high-security institutions, and evade authorities fare once he decides to get closer to his prey? It's a plot development rife with peril. You see, unlike the original Lupin, Diop is a more human and more relatable character. There is a divorced wife, a son, and a couple of allies. There is always the possibility of one of them getting hurt. The most emotionally affecting bit in Lupin comes from a bond between Diop and a defeated veteran journalist. The other riveting aspect of Lupin is how it explores the main characters through occasional flashbacks peppered through the episodes.
One could say that Assane Diop is to the Arsene Lupin universe what Samuel L Jackson is to the Shaft universe. It's a character that is free to do whatever he wants to without the original Lupin's image getting tainted. Omar Sy, who charmed everyone with a breakthrough performance in The Intouchables, is the best thing about this series. He makes the character his own without being a shadow of the original Lupin. The fifth episode ends with one hell of a cliffhanger. The stakes get raised beyond a manageable level, and I can't wait to see how Diop overcomes them. To conclude, Lupin is a binge-worthy series that should please most crime aficionados.