Lupin Part 2 Series Review: A worthy, satisfyingly thrilling follow-up
Despite the familiarity, both parts of Lupin work largely due to Omar Sy's charming presence and the way he sells Assane's larger-than-life aura and his vulnerability at once
Like the titular hero that inspired the anti-hero in Netflix's Lupin, Assane Diop, played by Omar Sy, is expected not to kill his opponents. If he does, it would be a great disservice to the fictional mastermind he grew up idolising: Arsene Lupin. This no-kill policy gets tested on multiple instances across the 5-episode successor of this prestige show that introduced us to the 'gentleman thief' in January. The second part finds Assane in a very vulnerable position. The risk of being cornered by bad guys and the law keeps increasing with each passing hour, and you often wonder whether Assane will deviate from his most guarded philosophy and take the extreme step.
Created by: George Kay
Cast: Omar Sy, Ludivine Sagnier, Soufiane Guerrab
Streaming on: Netflix
Like Batman in The Dark Knight, Assane not only has to keep himself hidden from the whole of Paris but also has to juggle the responsibility of protecting his loved ones from danger. Like the events that led Bruce Wayne to become Batman, everything in Lupin started with an act of injustice to a parent that caused Assane to embark on a journey of revenge.
The stakes are much higher in Part 2, which begins where Part 1 ended: the kidnapping of Assane's son at the behest of the primary antagonist, Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre growing more despicable with every episode). The first episode finds Assane at his most vulnerable. But the intense ordeal becomes an opportunity to present a potential ally in the form of Youssef Guedira (Soufiane Guerrab), a cop and fellow Lupin fan who has been successful at getting close to Assane. Guedira is the show's 'Ganimard', the investigator from the books. It's a moniker that Assane himself accords Guedira. Part-2 also explores a potential love interest, considering the rift between Assane and his wife, Claire (Ludivine Sagnier).
Part 2 not only delves deeper into the background of the elusive protagonist but also those around him. I liked how even its supporting characters manage to be memorable despite not having strong character arcs. They make a strong impression nonetheless, given their notable personalities, expressed wonderfully by all the right actors. But then Lupin is about Assane's journey and how each of these characters, good or bad, play a role in his evolution. As in the first part, Assane often looks into the past for inspiration. The tricks he learned and perfected during his school days with his best friend, Benjamin Ferel (Antoine Gouy), often come in handy. Though there are instances where the question "What would Lupin do?" pops up, there are also moments where Assane looks for inspiration within to improvise.
Part 2 also drops references to the Lupin-Sherlock Holmes crossover books, and the result is something that reminds us of all the things we enjoyed in a Batman, Jason Bourne, Mission Impossible, or Daniel Ocean movie. At times, the tension is heightened by cross-cutting between events in the past and present. Every plot development leads to a grand finale at an opera house that pays homage to, just like Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation recently, Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much.
Despite the familiarity of some plot points that feel like callbacks to crime films we grew up loving, both parts of Lupin work largely due to Omar Sy's charming presence and the way he sells Assane's larger-than-life aura and his vulnerability at once. We constantly yearn for the moment he walks away from his pursuers with a smile, disguises or not. In my review of Part 1, I wrote that Omar makes the character his own without being a shadow of the original Lupin. By the end of Part 2, it's Assane, the family man we see more of rather than Assane, the gentleman thief.
By the time the end credits roll, we get everything we hoped for, but we are also left wondering where the character goes from here. The ambiguity may not work for some, but it reflects the feeling of Assane's loved ones and fans in the story, and it carries the promise of Part 3. I'm already a fan, and I'm waiting to see if Assane would go global or face a new adversary next time. For now, this will do.