Lupin is a well written heist thriller adopting the name of Arsene Lupin and twisting that to fit a modern audience. Instead of rewriting what’s come before though, Lupin draws inspiration from the fictional thief to create something wholly new and exciting.
With echoes of anime series Great Detective, sprinklings of Carmen Sandiego and the grittiness of detective shows like Luther, Lupin draws a medley of ideas together to create a harmonious symphony of noise that hits all the right notes.
At the centerpiece of all this is our gentleman thief, Assane Diop. Determined to gain justice for the death of his Father, what begins as a cleverly written heist at the Louvre soon encapsulates all of Paris as the police jump in to try and capture this elusive thief. All the while, Assane remains determined to narrow down his search and learn the truth.
Given this season is split into two parts, part 1 is a brisk five episode romp that introduces our characters, the main conflict and the high stakes, setting everything up nicely for a second part that promises to be every bit as exciting and action-packed as this one.
Complicating matters further in this espionage thriller is Pellegrini’s mysterious daughter Juliette and crooked cop Inspector Dumont. Both these characters happen to have direct ties to Assane’s past that are drip-fed through the story over time.
The plot is well-paced, with enough high-stake obstacles for Assane to overcome; you genuinely feel tension every time Assane becomes involved in another elaborate scheme. The five episodes also see Assane use a range of different skills on his mission, including drones, disguises and conventional decoding. There’s an air of Jason Bourne in a lot of this but Assane’s human touch and obvious flaws help this show stand out and give Assane an air of believably. Rather than an unstoppable, all-knowing force like Sherlock, Assane is instantly relatable.
A couple of the episodes have great reveals too, going back to show how something has played out from a different perspective or how Assane has completed his objective while eluding everyone – including the audience. These moments work beautifully to pay off some of the slower segments of the show.
These are few and far between though in truth, especially given Lupin throws in a lot of flashes to Assane’s childhood. There’s also several jumps back in time to several days or weeks prior to a teasing scene at the start of the episode. While it works perfectly during episode 1’s opening heist, the rest of the season does suffer a little by rehashing this same concept. It’s not a deal breaker but by the end of episode 5, these moments do outstay their welcome a little.
Still, this is a minor gripe in what’s otherwise a highly enjoyable and engaging five episodes of action. The ending here sets the scene nicely for the second part to come and the various nods toward the Arsene Lupin books are a great way to pay homage to what’s come before. Those expecting a remake or a modernized version of the fictional thief will be disappointed but this modern, re-imagined, “based on” version is actually really compelling and one of 2021’s brighter spots so far.