Crime Capers Don't Get Much More Charming Than Netflix's Suave Omar Sy-Starring Standout 'Lupin'

Slick, stylish, twisty and thrillingly entertaining, this heist series about everyone's favourite French gentleman thief is back for a third easy binge.
Sarah Ward
October 05, 2023

Forget Emily in Paris — the best Netflix series set in the French capital focuses on a light-fingered smooth mover who is as adept at stealing hearts as he is at pilfering jewels and art. The streaming service's Lupin isn't the first screen outing based on the Maurice Leblanc-penned master of disguise, with the author's famous character first popping up on the big screen over a century ago, then appearing in both movies and TV not just in his homeland but also in the US and Japan since. Centred on a gentleman thief who takes his cues from the fictional figure, however, Netflix's take on all things Arsène Lupin is equally creative, riveting, twisty and entertaining. With the charismatic Omar Sy (Jurassic World Dominion) as its lead, it also couldn't be better cast.

Viewers initially discovered this Lupin's delights in January 2021, when Sy's Arsène superfan Assane Diop started showing off his larceny skills in the series' instantly engaging five-episode first part. The angle proved savvy. The central casting is sparkling. Creators George Kay (who has since made the Idris Elba-led Hijack) and François Uzan (Family Business) perfected the rollicking vibe, while director Louis Leterrier (Fast X) turned in some of his best work helming the debut three instalments. It's no wonder that the show became the most-watched series in a language other than English on Netflix at the pre-Squid Game time. A second five-chapter part arrived in June the same year, but audiences have had to wait until now for a third. Streaming its seven new entries from Thursday, October 5, Lupin's third part dazzles again. Crime capers don't much more charming  — and bingeable — than this page-to-screen heist affair.

Leblanc introduced the world to Lupin in short stories in 1905, with 17 novels and 39 novellas following. In some, Herlock Sholmes pops up — and yes, the reference to Arthur Conan Doyle's detective is clearly on purpose. Although Sherlock Holmes isn't quite Arsène Lupin's English equivalent, the two characters give readers and viewers alike the same thrills. If spending time with smart figures with silky skills in can't-put-down and can't-look-away mysteries is what you're after, both deliver. Netflix's Lupin gives the French favourite a modern-day Sherlock-esque spin, but with another pivot to put the suave Senegal-born Diop and his various quests in the spotlight.

When Diop first sashayed across streaming queues, he was on a mission to avenge the incarceration and death of his father Babakar (Fargass Assandé, Represent), who was imprisoned back when Assane was a kid for stealing a diamond necklace once owned by Marie Antoinette. Lupin's striking debut heist involved burgling the jewellery again — and from the Louvre no less — as Diop kept trying to establish his dad's innocence. In season two as well, Babakar's wealthy former boss Hubert Pellegrini (Hervé Pierre, Benedetta), who owned the necklace it was initially taken, is chief among Diop's targets. Just like everything from Squid Game to Succession, there's an eat-the-rich angle to Lupin; perhaps more than Sherlock Holmes, Robin Hood comes to mind.

Season three tasks the ever-resourceful Diop with coping with becoming headline fodder for his efforts with Pellegrini. He's long been in hiding since, which is having an impact upon his childhood sweetheart-turned-estranged wife Claire (Ludivine Sagnier, The Serpent Queen) and their teenage son Raoul (Etan Simon, Jeune et golri). Cue a new big scheme — with trusty assistance from his gadget-making best friend Benjamin Feel (Antoine Gouy, Gold Brick), another mainstay from his school days — to abscond with a priceless black pearl, fund a new life and start afresh with his family. But it isn't just police detectives Youssef Guédira (Soufiane Guerrab, Visions) and Sofia Belkacem (Shirine Boutella, Christmas Flow), one a massive Lupin aficionado himself and the other slowly being convinced of the books' relevance, who boast a keen interest in anything that possibly involves Assane.

Flashbacks to the 90s, to Diop (Mamadou Haidara, La vie de ma mère) and Claire (Ludmilla Makowski, Bardot) as high schoolers, remain in Lupin's return, with the series as concerned as ever with cause, effect and actions having consequences. Kay and his writing team not only adore layering in references to their source material as heftily as their protagonist, who bases his exploits around his inspiration, but piling in multiple mysteries. This is a show to sleuth along with, including puzzling through the same whodunnits that catch Assane's attention and pondering any heist series' main question: how'd they do it? Lupin always eventually explains the steps behind Diop's trickery, whether he's donning a luxe purple suit and ageing himself up to blend in by standing out or rushing through Paris' catacombs — and the reveals never disappoint.

As tautly scripted and stylishly shot as Lupin is, and as enjoyably OTT as many of its robberies prove, there's no doubting that this wouldn't be the gem it is without the perfectly cast Sy. While it was his César Best Actor Award-winning role in 2011's The Intouchables that first brought him to worldwide fame, leading to parts in X-Men: Days of Future Past and Jurassic World, it's Lupin that has cemented the Micmacs, Mood Indigo, Monsieur Chocolat and Night Shift actor as a global star. Enlisting him as Diop is a Daniel Craig-in-Bond, Tom Cruise-in-Mission: Impossible stroke of genius — and he's just as debonair, and adept at donning disguises. There are plenty of reasons that Assane has become a hero to the French masses in Lupin's latest go-around, but Sy's magnetic performance couldn't be more essential for at-home audiences.

Also pivotal: that Lupin isn't merely sleek action fodder with an excellent lead, plus gripping ups and downs. Emotional stakes have always been crucial to the show, as has unpacking traumas both now and across generations, the chasm between the one percent and everyone else, and interrogating racial divides as well as class clashes. It works as a Parisian travelogue, too, upping the thrills by getting Diop sneaking around — and often flatout waltzing into — well-known sights. John Wick: Chapter 4 isn't the only 2023 must-see to make excellent use of the Arc de Triomphe, for instance. In Lupin part three, the Place Vendôme, Père Lachaise Cemetery and Château de Thoiry also feature prominently. Lupin tours already exist, of course, but now they have a few more stops.

Check out the trailer for Lupin part three below:

Lupin part three streams via Netflix from Thursday, October 5.

Published on October 05, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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